Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Jan. 16, 2023
A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone’s weekend is going well. I had the good fortune to have my mom in town here in Tampa visiting for the last week, and we had a really wonderful time during her visit.
She even came on my podcast and did an interview on last Thursday’s show, and we got to tell some old racetrack stories about my dad and me as a kid. Aside from just spending time with her, one of the best parts of the trip was getting to spend time with her at the races.
My mom has only gotten to see me call races on three or four occasions as I’ve always called out of state from where she lives back in Washington. Horse racing was always a bond between my dad and me, but it's something my mom supported, as listeners of last week’s show heard. She knows the basics of a horse race, but that’s about it. But she loves to come out to watch and listen to me, and she has always been supportive of my career aspirations. She even puts our races on the TV back at her restaurant back home on days Tampa or Colonial is running. She’s just the best.
I’ve seen a lot of conversations over the years about racing and how nepotism runs deep in many areas of it. Now to be fair, my career has almost entirely been in horse racing. Other than a brief and unsuccessful stint in real estate and a couple of years working at a poker room that my mom owned, I’ve only worked in horse racing. So I don’t know how much truth there is in the claim that racing is rampant with nepotism compared to other industries or sports.
Obviously, in most professional team or individual sports, you really do kind of have to earn your way to the top levels. Sports aren’t a true meritocracy, but they’re probably closer to it than most jobs or industries that people would work in. I know personally I never had any family connections to racing other than my dad being a horseplayer. But I don’t feel like in my specific career I’ve ever been passed over or dismissed because I wasn’t related to someone who was an insider.
Racing does feel like a family thing for a lot of people, though. For so many of the horse men and women of the backstretch, it certainly is. Recently, I interviewed trainer Jason Barkley on the show and he talked about how he and his wife work together at the track almost every single day. I asked him if it was difficult to sometimes separate work and personal life, and he said they make it work. Training horses and being a rider is often a seven-day-a-week job, so it kind of makes sense that your family has to be on board with it because it is such a unique occupation.
The family thing goes for us horseplayers as well. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people on my show over the years and any time I have a first-time guest on, I love to ask them how they got into horse racing. Most say that a family member introduced them to it. It could be because their dad took them to the races like mine did, or a grandparent, or a sibling. But an overwhelming majority of people I talk to got interested in racing because a family member took them initially.
I’ve always maintained that a lot of our marketing needs to be to gamblers or people interested in gambling, but I also think finding a way to get families to come out is a good long-term thing for not only the popularity of the sport, but to possibly get people interested in working in the sport.
I’m grateful for the week of getting to share the game and the beauty of Tampa Bay Downs this week with my mom. Now I just need to convince her to come out to New Kent, Virginia in August. I hope she likes the heat!