Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Aug. 22, 2022

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August 22nd, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good weekend. I had to make a quick trip down to Florida, which given my fear of flying, is not all that quick. Twenty-four hours of driving in about a 42-hour period. But happy to be back in Virginia as we gear up for the final three weeks of Colonial Downs' summer season, featuring, of course, the Grade 3 $300,000 Virginia Derby on September 6. OK, with that shameless plug out of the way, let’s move on to today’s column.

Obviously, lots to talk about from the weekend, including stellar performances from Nest and Spenderalla, just to name a few. But since the Monday column is generally meant to be my favorite thing from the weekend, we’re going to talk about a harness race from Prince Edward Island, Canada. That’s right, Saturday night was the annual Gold Cup and Saucer at Red Shores Racetrack in Charlottetown, PEI. Now, I’m by no means a “harness guy,” but this race is something I look forward to each year.

I first heard about the race from my old boss, Will, at Portland Meadows who is a “harness guy.” It was 2012, and we watched Pownal Bay Matt and Earl Smith take home the Gold Cup and Saucer. I highly recommend watching the video of that race on YouTube, as it’s an insane race and even more insane racecall from Vance Cameron. “Booooom, just like that!” But ever since then, I make a point to watch the race each year.

I think my favorite part of the Gold Cup and Saucer is what a big deal it is for fans on Prince Edward Island. If you watch the video tape of this past weekend’s race, the place is packed with people along the apron and even on the fence on the turns. Also worth noting, the race didn’t go off until after midnight and the house was still packed.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for Wally Hennessey and Patrikthepiranha A just because I’ve met Wally and interviewed him for my show. Plus, he’s the king of Pompano Park, and I love me some Pomp. Wally sat in third early on, but when he went to the outside to try to come after Sintra, his horse broke stride, Sintra cruised to an easy win for driver Anthony McDonald and was greeted with a huge winner’s circle gathering in front of the grandstand.

Part of the reason I think I look forward to this race each year is that I really do love when a region or circuit has their day in the sun. Just like last week it was the Longacres Mile, this week it was the Maritimes who got to have their big event. Seeing all the locals on track, likely making it an annual event for themselves and their friends and family, it’s so much of what is good in being a fan of horse racing. I know in the modern era of simulcasting and ADWs that many tracks have to run on odd days and times to maximize handle. But there is nothing like a big crowd on track for a big day of racing.

I just think the regionality aspect of an area’s big race is something so cool and so part of the local racing culture. I always used to think of the Kentucky Derby as a race for the entire country and world. But spending more time in Louisville and especially getting to know friends in that area, you realize that even though the Derby is truly a part of Americana and draws interest from the entire world, it’s still very much Louisville’s race. Kentucky’s race. Friends who live there and aren’t even racing fans will tell you about various winners from all sorts of years and their memories of those particular editions. It’s a wonderful thing.