Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Aug. 1, 2022

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August 1st, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good weekend and cashed some tickets. I talked a lot about both Del Mar and Saratoga on the Monday edition of my podcast, but I want to dedicate all the space in today’s Monday Morning Message column to Del Mar. It’s really been a great couple of weekends for racing by the sea, and I thought it was worthy of some extra attention.

Saratoga is still the grand meet of the summer for most, and its place atop the mountain of American racing this time of year is well deserved. When I was younger, it always felt like it was a true debate, Saratoga or Del Mar?

Of course, many people were geographically biased in their answers, but in recent years it always seemed the answer was more consistently, “Saratoga’s racing is better, Del Mar’s weather is better.” Well, the weather argument isn’t an argument. Del Mar hands down. The racing debate, though, I feel like it is back to being a real debate, one that so far this summer I think I’m siding with Del Mar.

Southern California has not been without its struggles in recent years. Whether it’s been surface and safety issues or field size or controversial trainers, there’s been some tough stretches for our friends in the Golden State. So with the fast start to the Del Mar meet happening right now, it feels right to give them their just plaudits.

Through the first seven days, I think I’ve watched probably 70% of the races at Del Mar. It seems like every time I look up, it’s a field of nine, 10, or more. In fact, as I type this column, the fifth race on Sunday is about to go off with 12 maiden claimers going long on the grass. It’s just beautiful.

I understand that field size is an issue almost everywhere, and I’m at the point where I’m not even mad at the occasional five- or six-horse field as long as it’s interspersed with fields of eight or more all around it. Entire sequences of five, six, or seven horses honestly just gets me down. But to look up every race and feel like each race is an interesting puzzle with lots of possibilities, man, it makes this horse racing fan's heart sing.

Last week at Saratoga, there was a race that came in with an 11-1 over a 7-1, and I saw people complaining online that it only paid $63 for the exacta. It was a seven-horse field! There are only 42 total exacta combinations possible. Small fields almost always equal smaller payouts. So having the chance for players to bet into competitive fields of 10 or more, I think it just gives our players such a better opportunity at making scores.

One other cool thing from Del Mar this weekend was seeing trainer George Papaprodromou score his first Grade 1 win in Saturday’s Bing Crosby. The video of him running down the grandstand to the winner’s circle was truly amazing. George has been training horses since 2003 and is in the midst of a career year as a trainer. He’s already set his career high in wins for a calendar year and isn’t far from surpassing his best earnings year ever, and there’s still five months left in 2022.

Seeing people achieve milestones in their career will never not make me smile. George will remember that win as long as he’s alive. I’m sure he’ll have the win photo in his home or office for a long time. What a great memory for him and for us watching.

Everyone have a great week!