Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Nov. 21, 2022

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November 21st, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Thanksgiving week is here, and it’s kind of a fun week from a racing perspective. Each day it feels like we have something exciting going on in the racing world.

Mahoning Valley is running their feature race of the season, the $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint. Tuesday is Zia Park Derby Day down in New Mexico. Wednesday is opening day at Tampa Bay Downs, which, of course, is my favorite of the week! Thursday we have great holiday racing, Friday is the Clark Stakes, and there’s good weekend racing. So it should be an awesome week of racing action coast to coast.

I wanted to mention today the passing of longtime handicapper and turf writer Dave Litfin, who passed away last week at the age of 64. I had the great pleasure to meet Dave on several occasions in the last few years and most recently saw him last winter at Gulfstream Park, where he was calling the charts for Equibase. He was always very friendly, and I had the good pleasure to have him on my show back in April of 2020 to talk about his life and career in racing.

The media landscape in horse racing has obviously changed a ton in the last decade or two. Social media has made it so that stories are reported pretty much instantly, and the news cycles through quickly. Writers who used to pen long-form stories about complex topics and figures within the industry generally now just put out a tweet or maybe a short story. We consume more and more media, just in smaller, more bite-sized amounts. Heck, even these columns I do probably only take the average reader a minute or two.

With the passing of Dave last week and my friend Victor “the Predictor” Cozzetti a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the old guard of turf writers. When I would buy a hard copy of past performances back in the day, I always read all the stories at the front of the paper. Then I’d read the handicapper’s thoughts and eventually dive into the card. But each circuit had their guy or gal that I’d look forward to reading their coverage on those races.

Now I’d say it’s usually a mix of track handicappers and then everyday players who follow lots of circuits. Many of the track handicappers have multiple circuits they work or do analysis for, so it does seem like the track specialist is a bit of a lost position. Now, before you start tweeting me with examples of people who do just that, I know they still exist. I suppose I’m just missing the names and faces that were omnipresent on a given circuit back when I was coming up.

I do still think long-form work has a place in racing and society. Podcasts are still very popular, and within racing I think there are some very good ones. Folks like Joe Nevills and Natalie Voss have done some really great stuff over the years. I don’t think rapid-fire reporting and Twitter journalism are going anywhere anytime soon, though.

And I’m glad it’s not, just because it is pretty amazing to get information out so quickly. And those of us who do enjoy diving into a long story will just have to enjoy those things when they come out.

People’s stories are so much more in this sport than just a tweet or a soundbite. One of the great privileges of doing a podcast has been getting to hear and share people’s stories of how they got into racing, what they love about, and what they dream about doing in the game. 

Hope everyone has a good week!