Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem June 20, 2022

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June 20th, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good weekend and cashed some tickets! I wanted to write a little bit today about Father’s Day. To me it’s such a racetrack kind of day for so many of us in this business because so many of us were introduced to the game by our fathers. When I ask guests on my podcast how they first got into horse racing, 90% or more of them say it’s because of a parent.

My introduction to horse racing was 100% because of my father. What’s interesting is I don’t truly know how he got into it. Maybe he told me and I’ve just forgotten, but I don’t at all remember how he was introduced to racing because it certainly couldn’t have been from his parents. Neither of his parents would waste a dime on anything, let alone betting $2 on a horse. But somehow by the time I came into the world in 1980, my dad was into horse racing.

My first memories at the track were with him. Flash back to Father’s Day of 1990. I was 10 years old and Dad and I spent the day at Longacres, our hometown track in Renton, Washington. My mom would give me $20 on Sundays so I could go and make $2 bets on each race, and my dad would just take the $20 and he would make my bets each race. My two favorite horses at the time, Captain Condo and Grandstand Gabe, were both running in the Space Needle Handicap, and I used my $2 to play an exacta that way. Well it hit, and if memory serves, the payout was $44. I asked my dad for the money after the race, to which he replied, “I’ll give it to you on Wednesday.” This was my first realization that he was just pocketing the $20 and booking my action.

By the time I was 13 or 14, my dad insisted that I go and make my own bets at the windows. Even though the legal age to bet was 18, he kept telling me, “They won’t care.” He was right, nobody ever questioned me. One of my favorite racetrack memories of my dad was from the late 1990s at Emerald Downs. He had been on a cold streak, and he took a $50 bill up to the window and bought a ticket. He proceeded to walk back to our table, sit down, then go back to the teller to cancel the bet. I asked him “Why’d you cancel the bet?” He looked at me dead seriously and said, “It’s just been so long since I had the teller hand me any money, I wanted to remember what it felt like.”

We had a few Father’s Days at Longacres before it closed, and a few more at Emerald Downs when it opened on today’s date, June 20, in 1996. The last one we spent together was in 2001, just over a month before he passed away. One of the last days we spent at the track together, we sat in the bar at Emerald Downs and I ran his bets for him. The melanoma he had was spreading throughout his body and he had an oxygen tank next to him. But he still got a thrill firing away at the windows.

One Father’s Day visit I’ll always remember was in 2002, the first Father’s Day after dad had passed away. My longtime friend Chris called me and asked if I wanted to go to Emerald Downs with him and his dad. Chris’ dad, Dan, was one of my dad’s best friends. It always struck me as such an act of kindness for them to invite me to the races on that day. I don’t remember who won any of the races or if we won at the windows, but I remember the gesture and still appreciate it. 

Whether or not you spent yesterday missing your father or were lucky enough to spend the day with them or at least have a phone call, I hope the day brought up good memories for you. I know that day brings up very difficult memories for many. My relationship with my dad was very complex so it’s certainly a mixed bag of emotions each year. But the memories from Father’s Days at the racetrack? They are pure sunshine.