Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem for Jan. 31, 2022
Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend as we wrap up January 2022.
I feel like it always takes me the first month of the year before I finally type the correct year all of the time. I usually spend most of January writing 2021 and then going back and changing it to 2022. But it’s February now so no more excuses!
One of the real joys in life is seeing your friends have successes.
Whether it’s in their personal lives or careers, to me there are few better feelings in the world than seeing someone you care about do well. So in the spirit of that thought, I want to give a shout to my buddy Peter Aiello for the outstanding job he did announcing the Pegasus World Cup, but also for just the wonderfulness that is Peter.
We’ll get to that soon, but first, a story.
Any time Pete’s name comes up in a random conversation I always jokingly say “you know I got his announcing career started.”
Now of course, that isn’t really true. But it’s not totally a lie either.
We have to go back to the spring of 2008. Kentucky Derby day of 2008, to be exact. I had just started my third summer at River Downs and things were not going well. I was really struggling with anxiety and depression issues, and I kind of hit a bottom that day. I couldn’t make it through the card and ended up watching the Kentucky Derby in a hospital room with the doctor talking to me while Big Brown rolled to his impressive win. The next day I quit my job at River Downs as I just felt it was best for me to go home and try to get healthy. Spoiler alert, that didn’t work.
My mom and aunt flew out to help me drive back home to Seattle and at the end of the first day we stopped in Des Moines, Iowa. We went to dinner at the Big Steer Restaurant, which is right next to Prairie Meadows, and from the parking lot at the Big Steer I called my friend Luke Kruytbosch to tell him I had left River Downs.
Luke was the announcer at Churchill Downs at the time, but he was also kind of the Godfather of announcers. He had always helped guys land their first job, offered advice on the profession, and just been an all-around great guy. I told Luke at the end of the call “if you know anyone who might be interested in the job, call the track, because they need someone ASAP.” Luke told me he had an idea.
His idea was Peter Aiello. Luke knew Pete as an aspiring racecaller who came out of the University of Arizona Racetrack Industry Program. Pete had just started a job in the race office, at of all places, Prairie Meadows. So Pete was literally a few hundred feet away from me when I made that call to Luke.
Years later Pete told me that Luke called him and told him about the opportunity and that initially Pete didn’t think he could do it, because he’d just started at Prairie Meadows and didn’t want to leave them right after starting. Luke told Pete something to the effect of “do you want to be an announcer or not? Cause if you do, you should take this job.” Pete took the job and after a few weeks took over the booth at River Downs. Pete will also tell you, as I will, that River Downs had one of the best announcer's booths ever. It was right on the finish line and just perfectly designed by the late Kevin Goemmer.
It’s so fun getting to hear him call the big races that occur during the Championship Meet. He always seems to rise to the occasion. I think his passion for the sport shines through in his calls.
When we were all a little surprised just how far in front Life is Good was on Saturday, Pete was too!
I think he’s a favorite of a lot of horseplayers because they know he’s one of them. Pete is still the only other racecaller to text me to tell me he was alive in a Quarter Horse Daily Double at Portland Meadows on a Tuesday.
A fellow announcer friend of mine once told me “you know what the best part of a big race day is? When it’s over!” Well Pete, the Pegasus is over. So take a deep breath, you don’t have to call another big national stage race until… oh, the Holy Bull is in 5 days. Knock ‘em dead pal!
Listen to our Monday show recapping the Pegasus World Cup below.