Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Oct. 31, 2022
A good Monday morning to you all and a Happy Halloween! Excited to finally be into Breeders’ Cup week and looking forward to the big couple of days on Friday and Saturday. I’ll be doing some picks for the Breeders’ Cup in my Thursday column and look forward to diving into the past performances as the weeks go on.
I wanted to give quick mention to what I like to call “state-bred season,” which kind of wrapped up this past weekend. It’s by no means an official part of the calendar, but it seems that after the final round of Breeders’ Cup preps are run, the three weeks or so between those and the Breeders’ Cup kind of belong to the state breds — days like Maryland Million Day, Oklahoma Classics Night, New Mexico Classic Day, and even Empire Showcase Day, which was run yesterday in New York.
It makes perfect sense to have these races this time of year, and I always try to give them a little bit of attention just because I know how important they can be to the connections and the local breeding programs. I also love the pride that they bring out for people who breed and race horses in these states. Many of these tracks and circuits aren’t in the spotlight all that much, and it’s a chance for the folks there to earn a big payday against their state-bred competitors.
I remember working at Portland Meadows, and our big day of the year was our state-bred day, Oregon Championship Day. For several years it was one of the only cards we’d run on a weekend, so it always brought in a big crowd. It was usually very cold and run in early December, if I remember correctly. We’d do specials with local Oregon-based food and beverage companies, and make it an Oregon-themed day.
One thing that can be tough about state-bred days as a bettor is so often there’s one or two horses in each division who tower over their rivals. It seems these days can chalk out at the windows and can be tough for the punters to find some value.
I remember a former turf writer telling me once, “Ah, Oregon Championship Day, exposing, err, celebrating the Oregon bred.” He was mostly kidding, but of course not all state-bred programs are high-level racing.
I’ve gotten the great opportunity in recent years to visit some of the large Kentucky stallion and breeding farms, and they are absolutely incredible and breed some of the best racehorses in the world every year. They rightfully have their place atop of the food chain in that department. But I’ve also had the great pleasure to visit smaller farms in places like Washington, Oregon, Florida, and others. The people are no less passionate and no less excited about their horses than those in the Bluegrass.
I want to end with a quote from Dr. Jack Root Jr., who is a breeder in Oregon. Dr. Jack told me one time, “Jason, I still think and hope that every horse that hits the ground here at the farm is going to win the Kentucky Derby or Oaks.”
I love that there are people in the game still dreaming like that, even in the smallest corners of the racing world. I’ve never gotten to go to a Kentucky Oaks or Derby, but if Dr. Jack ever gets one in, I’m going to find a way to go.
Have a good Breeders’ Cup week, everyone.