Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem April 24, 2023

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April 24th, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! We talk a lot about the Kentucky Derby (G1) on this site for obvious reasons, but so much of it always just feels like talk until this week. With the morning works shows starting up and everyone starting to head to Louisville, the excitement and realness of our biggest day of the year is getting more and more palpable.

Quick plug for the workout shows, make sure to watch them. They’ll be airing on YouTube and all the socials. I don’t really get influenced by the works at this point, but I just love watching Joe and Shapper, and all the gang, talking about the races, and racing in general. It’s a great production and a good way to start off your morning each day leading up to next weekend.

I watched a fair bit of Keeneland this weekend and really enjoyed the Saturday card. It was fun to see some upsets and big payoffs, as that seemingly was a theme this week there with all the Pick 6 carryovers and the big payouts on Saturday. Rattle N Roll took home the Ben Ali Stakes win and to be honest, I had most things about this race dead wrong when I looked at it last week.

I think as a general rule, in stakes races, I underestimate trainer Kenny McPeek. Kenny takes a lot of shots in big races, and I think I’m usually quick to dismiss his horses, especially the ones like Rattle N Roll who we’ve seen a bunch of times over the last few years. My immediate thought when seeing Rattle N Roll’s name was to not be interested in him as a contender. For no real reason other than some strange internal bias.

Speaking of bias, I’m well aware of my bias toward horses I’ve gotten to call. Skippylongstocking falls into that category as I saw him win nicely here at Tampa this past March. I really think he’ll win a big race at some point during this campaign, and on Saturday he was just kind of flat. I do think he’s going to be good, but I’m not sure how much of that is actual fact and how much of it is my own bias projecting that. I suppose, as always, time will tell.

To me the real shocker in this race was again how poorly Tawny Port ran. He hasn’t really done anything remotely good since his poor effort in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), and I just have to wonder what they can do to turn him around. He was done early on in the Ben Ali and essentially eased. I was thinking he might be poised for a bounce-back here, as were many other bettors, as he was bet down to 4-1.

I think one area of handicapping that I’m especially not good at is form cycles — trying to predict when a horse is going into form, or will stay in form, or might be tailing off. I believe I fall for a lot of recency bias and often give up on horses who have a dull race or two. So with Tawny Port, I was trying to buck that normal line of thinking and imagine maybe he was due for a bounce-back. But he ran even worse! There’s a little part of my brain that’s even telling me now, “But next time, we’ll really get a big price on him!”

Finding out our biases and learning how to not only recognize them but learn to eliminate them is an important life skill, but also important in handicapping. Of course, we have our opinions and they’re often based on our experiences and things we’ve learned. But they also can be strong and cloud us from seeing the race as it is on paper.

Good luck this week, everyone!