Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Jan. 9, 2023

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January 9th, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! Ready to kick this week off and wanted to talk a little bit about a sad event that happened at Sunland Park a couple weeks ago. Jockey Joree Scriver was injured in a spill and it was announced on Sunday that as a result of the injuries suffered that she was now paralyzed in her lower limbs. Jockeys are of course always at risk in their profession. As is often said, not many jobs where an ambulance has to follow behind you at all times. 

I got to meet Joree at Grants Pass Downs where she was our leading rider in 2021. Some of her first races were at Grants Pass Downs in 2020, and it was actually really crazy to see how much she’d improved from that first year to her second year at Grants Pass. It’s a tricky track to ride as a half-mile oval, and I think she realized the value of speed and position on that course. 

Last spring the New York Times came out to do an article about Grants Pass Downs and some of the people that made up the community. Joree was featured quite heavily in the article as she was atop our riders standings at the time. The eerie thing about that article was the cover photo showed a field going around the turn and was led by jockey Eduardo Gutierrez-Sosa who you could always spot because he wore pink jockey pants. Eduardo actually was killed in a riding accident on the Oregon fair circuit just a few days before that article came out. 

I think we all know the risks that jockeys take on when they’re riding. Falling off a horse at a standstill would likely cause some bumps and bruises, I can’t even imagine the terror of it happening at 35 miles per hour and being surrounded by other horses running. I think sometimes when you watch racing every day you can sometimes get a bit numb to the dangers of the sport itself for both humans and our equine athletes. 

Seeing the news about Joree certainly shocked me. Such a young person and a promising career that was on the rise and now that certainly has come to an abrupt halt. But she has a lot of life in front of her and I hope that she’s able to recover from the injuries and send her nothing but the best wishes. According to news stories they said there was still hope for her condition to improve as the swelling comes down. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people’s career paths and how often they aren’t nearly as linear as we’d hope. I think many people set out into a field and hope that they’ll start at point A and work their way up to Point X, and then they’ll be set. It’s just so not true though. I mean, it’s true for some people. But not for most of us. Imagine how many jockeys out there start at a small track with dreams of the Kentucky Derby (G1) or Saratoga in their heads as they ride $2,500 claiming races. And some get there. Many don’t. And that’s OK. It’s just so fascinating to me the roads that we end up taking in our lives, and sometimes how the roads come to an end. 

I remember having conversations with a friend of mine who is also a racecaller back in the late 2000s. We’d always gossip about which announcers got which jobs and what jobs we would apply for if they opened up. We’d discuss what it would be like to someday call graded stakes races or even big races like the Breeders’ Cup or Kentucky Derby. When you’re young you think those things are possible and maybe even probable. And they are; they happen sometimes for some people. They don’t for others. That is true in almost any line of business, and horse racing is no exception. 

Anyways, this column is probably meandering a little bit, just trying to write about what I was feeling tonight and thinking about reading the news about Joree. So I’ll end with sending her good wishes and good health and with the same for all of you reading.