Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Feb. 14, 2022

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February 14th, 2022

Good Monday Morning to you all!

Hope everyone had a good weekend, and a wonderful Valentine’s Day to everyone who’s celebrating their partners and loved ones today. 

We had a busy weekend down here in Tampa as it was Sam F. Davis day at Tampa Bay Downs.  I thought this race really shaped up as one of the more interesting and wide open 10 point Road to the Kentucky Derby races we’ve seen. So of course the favorite Classic Causeway got bet down and crushed!  

It really was a fun day at the track, and for me, it was very cool to get to call a couple of point races leading towards the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Throughout the day leading up to the stakes events there were a ton of very good stretch battles, tight photo finishes, big fields, and just a lot of things that can add to the challenge of announcing a horse race.

When Nest grabbed the lead turning for home in the Suncoast Stakes, I’ll be honest, a little part of my race-calling heart was thankful that for at least one race there wasn’t going to be a heart-pounding stretch drive. I actually think one of my weak spots in calling races is head and head stretch battles.

As a general rule I call races pretty quickly, so when those things heat up it’s easy to get tongue tied or just not having something good to say pop into my head. I actually thought of something that would have been in the stretch battle between Bank On Shea and Baby Yoda in the Pelican Stakes. Unfortunately, it came to me about ten minutes after the race went official. So maybe next time. 

Getting to be on track for any big race is such a unique feeling. It’s a different kind of adrenaline. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be on track at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. I hope to get there someday for a Derby just to feel it. But once the horses started walking over for the Sam F. Davis, you could certainly feel a change in the electricity at the track.

When the previous race went official, there was already $125,000 in just the win pool!  I remember seeing that on the toteboard and immediately realizing just how big these Derby prep races are and how many eyeballs watch them. I think the race itself handled over $2 Million dollars, which is what we used to handle in two weeks at tracks I worked at coming up like Portland Meadows.

When the gates popped I really wanted to keep an eye on Little Vic on the outside who drew in off the also-eligible list. He broke well but I immediately saw that Classic Causeway was literally a length or more in front of everyone within a couple of jumps. Little Vic came and ran with him early, and they put up a solid opening quarter mile, but I truthfully don’t think the pace was as hot as I and many others expected it would be.

They went only 24 seconds for the second quarter and by the time they were on the turn, Classic Causeway and Little Vic were inching away from their rivals. The second Classic Causeway kicked away it was curtains. There’s few things cooler than when a good horse switches leads and accelerates away. Other than a good run from Shipsational from out of the pack, nobody else was really moving that significantly late that I could see. But I think horses like Golden Glider, God of Love, and Strike Hard are ones to watch going forward, because in my view the middle stages of that race didn’t help set up for the off the pace runners.

Classic Causeway and Shipsational are both being pointed back to the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12th. If Rattle N Roll shows up, as trainer Kenny McPeek has indicated he will, we should have a really good showdown in that race.  

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues this coming weekend with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. I’m going to have Marcus Hersh from the Daily Racing Form on the Jason Beem Horse Racing Podcast this week to preview the Risen Star and talk Fair Grounds racing. We hope you’ll tune in!