Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Mar. 21, 2022
A good Monday to you all! Excited to get back on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this week as the Louisiana Derby on Saturday takes center stage at the Fair Grounds. Also Sunday we’ll have the Sunland Derby, which will be run for the first time since 2019.
I still remember when the pandemic hit full force in March of 2020, the Sunland Derby was one of the first major races that got cancelled. Sunland didn’t open for racing during their 2020-2021 season, but they’re back this year and I’m excited to watch Sunday's race.
I’ve been able to visit Sunland Park and El Paso a few times in my travels over the years and always enjoyed the visits. If you find yourself down there, make sure and try Chicos Tacos. It’s a truly unique El Paso experience that is one of those things that people either love or hate. I love it! They are legit the grossest looking tacos you’ll ever seen, but man are they good.
Wanted to write this week’s Monday column about something I really enjoyed this weekend, and that was the Saturday card at Oaklawn.
Along with the Essex Handicap, the Whitmore Stakes was the co-headliner and they even brought the great Whitmore back to the track for the day. It was a really cool touch to see him back at Oaklawn, where he’d had so many amazing performances for trainer Ron Moquett. And the race was a thriller, with Bob’s Edge rallying from last to first to get the win.
The other thing I really loved about the card was Rated R Superstar scoring a win in the Essex. It was just his second career graded stakes win and put him up over $1.5 Million in career earnings. Similar to Whitmore, he’s been a veteran of the racing at Oaklawn Park, racing there over two dozen times in his wonderful career. It also marked the first career graded stakes win for owner Danny Caldwell, which is crazy to think about since he’s been winning races in the Midwest for so long.
What I think I enjoyed most though was the fact that they had the celebration for Whitmore and his connections and they were all there to enjoy it. So often, not just in racing but in sports and life in general I suppose, we celebrate and honor people or athletes after they’ve passed on. Someone dies and they get elected to a Hall of Fame. They pass so their number gets retired. I always figure, if someone has earned a certain level of stature or achievement worthy of being honored in such a way, let’s do it while they’re still here.
Now granted Whitmore himself probably didn’t care one way or the other. But I’m sure his connections were very excited to have him at the track, soaking up the applause and honor that he and they earned for his amazing career on the track. So big kudos to Oaklawn and to Whitmore and his connections for what added to a really fun day of racing in Arkansas.