Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Aug. 15, 2022

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August 15th, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good weekend and is ready to take on another big week of summer racing. One of the highlights of my weekend from a racing perspective was getting to see Damon’s Mound go to Saratoga and score a nice win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

He had been so impressive in his debut at Churchill Downs, but we here in Virginia have been lucky enough to have him stabled here this summer at Colonial Downs for trainer Michelle Lovell. He’s been working sensationally here so it was very cool to see them go up to the Spa and take home a big win.

It was Michelle’s first starter at Saratoga, and there are few things I love more in racing than seeing the smaller barns and outfits go take on the big boys and win. Now granted, Michelle is a very accomplished, multiple graded stakes-winning trainer, but to go up and take on top horses at Saratoga is quite the achievement. So congrats to her and her whole team, and can’t wait to see Damon’s Mound wherever he goes next.

Speaking of the smaller barns, it was an amazing day for a few of them up at Emerald Downs on Sunday. As I wrote about in last Thursday’s column, Sunday was the 87th running of the Longacres Mile. Being from Seattle, that race means so much to everyone up in that part of the country, and we take great pride in it. 

A full field of 12 contested this year’s Mile, and congrats go out to the connections of Slew’s Tiz Whiz. Trainer Tom Wenzel won this race back in 2007, so it’s his second Mile win. The win was the biggest of the career for jockey Jose Zunino, which was very neat to see. Jose was a top rider at Portland Meadows when I worked there and always had a smile on his face and was always so kind to everyone he comes across.

Small barns also took home wins in the Emerald Distaff and the Muckleshoot Derby as Alan Bozell sent out Zippin Sevenz to a 23-1 victory in the Emerald Distaff, and Debbie Van Horne saddled 56-1 You’re the Cause in the Derby. Both upsets were career wins for both trainers, which was so cool to see barns who are usually claiming level trainers get wins in the stakes races.

In his 20-year training career, Bozell has sent out over 200 winners. Zippin Sevenz’s win in the Emerald Distaff now makes that his highest-earning horse with earnings just shy of $100,000 for her career. The win also sends Bozell’s season earnings to over $145,000, which is his second highest total of his training career.

Van Horne saddled her first racehorses back in 1977 and has saddled over 3,330 horses since then, winning at a 10% clip. She’s been almost exclusively based in the Pacific Northwest and also works as a pony person during the races in addition to training. I remember at Portland Meadows when one of her horses would win, they’d always have to wait for Debbie and her pony horse to get back to the winner’s circle to get their picture taken. Debbie had a really nice horse named Knightsbridge Road back in the 2000s that won a couple of smaller stakes at Emerald Downs, but I do believe this is the biggest purse money win of her career in the $75,000 Muckleshoot Derby. 

I know that the big million dollar races and graded events get the headlines, and they’re supposed to. But as a racing fan, particularly someone from an area with more modest purses and racing, it still excites me to see people have career moments in our big races. So congrats to Alan and Debbie on their big wins this weekend.