Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Dec. 5, 2022

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December 5th, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope your December is off to a good start. Cigar Mile Day is in the rearview mirror and, while we still have some big days to come in December on the racing calendar, this time of year is thought of by many as a “quiet time.” I have a story I’m going to share in Thursday’s Column about a big score I had during this “quiet time” back in 2005 that I think you’ll get a kick out of. 

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the Demoiselle (G2) from Saturday at Aqueduct, where Julia Shining got up to narrowly score in the 1 1/8-mile event. I tweeted shortly after the race that “at no point in the first three-quarters of that race did I think Julia Shining had any chance to win.” In fact, after the win, there was a lot of talk like that around social media. What a gutsy effort it was, what a sick beat if you played against her, etc. I think a lot of people were surprised at the outcome given the first parts of the race. 

Watching horse races as often as many of us do, I think horseplayers can become pretty adept at gauging how horses are traveling. Very often we know at the half-mile pole if we have any kind of shot or not to win the race. I would say for a lot of us it’s not the body language of the horse that tells us that, but rather the body language of the jockey. If the rider is pumping and whipping and the horse isn’t responding at all, we usually feel pretty safe crumpling up our tickets and tossing them aside. So, when Luis Saez was seemingly riding Julia Shining pretty vigorously on the first turn in a nine-furlong race, it didn’t look good. 

Now, I do know that some people are good at deciphering how a horse is traveling by looking at the horse. As a racecaller I’ve gotten a little better at it, but really most of my reading of a race and how a horse is traveling is from reading how the jockey is riding. So, after watching the Demoiselle, part of me was wondering whether or not maybe she was traveling within herself the whole time and Luis Saez was misreading her? I don’t think that was the case. Given that her debut was a little bit similar, it seems quite possible that she’s just been able to get by so far on being extremely talented and probably having a lot of heart. I mean, not only did she overcome seemingly not handling the track well, but she was very wide on the turns and still got up to win going a mile and one eighth. That’s gotta count for something right? 

The only problem with raw talent is, at some point, she will likely need to run more professionally. Given her relative inexperience, there’s probably a good chance that she will get something out of this race and be a more polished horse in her subsequent starts. Which she will need to be as the competition waters get deeper. But it certainly was entertaining to watch and, as someone who watches a lot of races, it was kind of fun to be surprised. 

Also, this is a little bit of a hot take, but after watching the race a couple of times I actually am a bit interested in Gambling Girl the most coming out of the Demoiselle. She was affected slightly by Julia Shining on the first turn, moved later than that one, had to find a split in the stretch, and still was only beaten a length. The Demoiselle and Remsen (G2) are such strange races for two-year-olds because of their distance and this year because of the track surface. It will truly be fascinating to see how those races come back when these horses make their next starts, likely in 2023. Of course, we’re already on the road to the first Friday and Saturday in May, so these little stops along the way like the Demoiselle are part of what makes the next six months so exciting. 

Have a good week everybody!