Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Jan. 23, 2023
A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good weekend. It was a tough one down here at Tampa Bay Downs, as we had a tragic accident on Saturday morning during training when exercise rider Daniel Quintero passed away from injuries sustained in the accident. Just 19 years old and hoping to make his way to become a jockey — just a total tragedy. Our wonderful publicity writer Mike Henry wrote an article about Daniel that you can read HERE if you’d like to learn more about his life with quotes from his family members. Rest in peace, Daniel.
Over at the Fair Grounds, it was Lecomte Day on Saturday and even though it’s not the first three-year-old Kentucky Derby (G1) preps of the year, for some reason each year this feels to me like the road really kick-starts.
As a fan, I tend to not follow two-year-old racing as close as I should be, and so often these early-stage preps feature horses I’m not in tune with. But one of the really fun parts of the Road to the Kentucky Derby is the element of paring down the class of three-year-olds to 20 horses in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. There will be horses on the road the whole way, but most will drop off and find their way to allowances or sprints or more suitable levels of racing.
Instant Coffee and Two Phil's were both coming off of stakes wins at Churchill Downs at the fall meet, and both put in good runs in the Lecomte. The really quick second quarter of the Lecomte I think helped set the race up for both of them, but there was no doubting that Instant Coffee was much the best. Given the fact that he earned solid speed figures for the effort and that he’s from the barn of Brad Cox, no doubt he’s going to get some major attention in preps going forward.
The Silverbulletday also produced two very interesting three-year-old fillies with The Alys Look and Chop Chop running one-two for Cox. Cox has been dominating the big races at the Fair Grounds this meet, and as a race-watcher I admit it’s very uninteresting when one barn dominates so much. So hopefully some other good three-year-old fillies can find a way to make this division more competitive. But those top two were very good, and no doubt the recency edge for The Alys Look made the difference over Chop Chop, outlasting that one in the final yards.
I think my favorite race of the day, though, was the Louisiana S. for the older runners. Happy American was able to grind out a hard-fought win over Mr. Wireless and Forza Di Oro in a race that featured the same trifecta finish as the Tenacious S. last month at Fair Grounds. Forza Di Oro and Mr. Wireless both went off at pretty high prices considering how well they finished in the Tenacious, but the presence of Zozos allowed their odds to float up very high.
Zozos was one of those great examples of the power of the Triple Crown trail races. Horses that have success on the trail and make it to the Kentucky Derby so often tend to get overbet after their travels on the trail. Zozos was coming off a decent win in a race he was 3-5 in, where his 94 Brisnet Speed figure was lower than the number earned from Happy American, Mr. Wireless, and Forza Di Oro in the Tenacious.
I always say two of the best times of the year for overbet favorites are right now on the Derby trail, when good two-year-olds are making their returns at three (Chop Chop?), and then after the Triple Crown trail, when horses who ran in those races are coming back. They both always seem to get overbet and often lose.
Anyway, look forward to Risen Star Day in a few weeks!