Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem July 18, 2022

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July 18th, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Getting ready for week two here at Colonial Downs with a pair of $150,000 turf sprints headlining the day. Michelle Lovell will send out two of her stars in those races, as Just Might and Change of Control are entered in their respective divisions. A win by Just Might would make him a millionaire racehorse, which is always a great achievement, but to do it without ever winning a graded stakes is even more remarkable.

I was able to watch a lot of Saratoga this weekend and really enjoyed it. I said this about the Kentucky Derby back in May, but I think it’s important to remember, we only get so many Saratoga summers in our lives. It has such a wonderful tradition and place in our domestic racing calendar that I think it’s just so important to celebrate the weeks we get to watch it. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I find I try to savor the things that I really enjoy in life, and Saratoga is certainly one of them.

Definitely looking forward to the bigger three-year-old races at Saratoga as the summer rolls on. It sounds like Early Voting and Epicenter are going to rematch in the Jim Dandy, which makes that race exciting. Plus, you have to think everyone is going to show up for the Travers, including Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike.

I truly wonder what Rich Strike’s future will be if he doesn’t run a big race in that Travers. In general, it seems as though Kentucky Derby winners tend to retire pretty quickly if they start falling out of form or not winning. I imagine with the stallion deals, but also just the pressure of being and managing the Kentucky Derby winner, it’s hard to keep running them if they aren’t doing well. But they can never take away his one big day in the sun if that ends up being his only big moment.

One of my favorite random things at Saratoga as a viewer is the very low angle from which the television cameras shoot from. It produces a much different view than many tracks that have a four- or five-story grandstand. But it also weirdly makes it kind of hard to make good depth gauges on who is in front or if a horse is rallying.

Now, I know that may sound like an odd thing to be one of my favorite Saratoga things, but let me explain. It feels like it drags the drama out in a race for just a bit longer. Like, there are times with a higher view that it’s easier to tell if your horse is gaining ground or isn’t and whether or not you’re toast. But at Saratoga, it feels like you have hope for just those few extra seconds. I don’t know why, but I’ve always enjoyed that aspect of it. As a racecaller, though, I imagine it’s a very tricky place to call because of that. My booth at Tampa is quite low as well, but there also isn’t all the trees and bushes and other visual obstructions like at Saratoga.

All in all, though, I thought it was a good opening weekend at Saratoga. The $500,000-plus traditional Pick 6 carryover on Saturday made that card all the more interesting as well. To me, the excitement of the traditional Pick 6 carryover (non-jackpot) just has a more special feel to it. I remember back in the mid-2000s, a couple day Southern California Pick 6 carryover would be the talk of racing for the entire day and night leading up to it. Now it seems like there’s a mandatory payout jackpot each week somewhere and because of how bad those bets are normally, I just have a disdain for them.

Hope everyone’s week goes well, and I'm looking forward to Del Mar opening up on Friday, which we will talk about in this Thursday’s column.