Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem April 29, 2024

April 29th, 2024

A good Monday morning to you all and happy Kentucky Derby week! As I’ve often said about big races, they never feel “real” to me until the field has been drawn. Even though we’ve known for a few weeks who was likely running in the Oaks and Derby, didn’t it feel like the excitement really began on Saturday night after the post positions were drawn? 

As is often the case, the big news out of the draw is usually where the favorites draw and who draws the rail. Other than that, I don’t think it sways people’s thoughts all that much. Also, if you like Fierceness, don’t let the post 17 thing scare you. Just because I have as many Derby wins as any horse to break from that post, if he’s drawn three feet left or right of that post, nobody is mentioning it. 

This week is such a fun and strange mix of hype, hyperbole, craziness, fun, and anticipation. It’s our final week of the season at Tampa Bay Downs, so this whole week is kind of a crazy emotions week. I’m personally very ready for a “break” from race calling, but usually within about three weeks I’m bored and ready to get to Colonial Downs. 

You are going to hear everyone’s opinions this week. There are going to be so many opinions it’ll spin your head by Saturday. And that’s a good thing. We’re a game of opinions. Some will be right, most will be wrong. My one piece of advice to newer players who are getting ready for the Derby week festivities is to trust your own opinions. It’s so easy to get talked off of horses you like just because you hear “experts” saying why they may like or dislike a horse. Trust me, the experts don’t know all that much more than you or I. So trust your own eyes and your own thoughts. If you’re gonna win or lose, do it based on your own work.

One of my favorite things about the Kentucky Derby and other big signature events in our sport is they sometimes feel like life markers. I can remember where I watched almost every Kentucky Derby for the last 20 years. I remember watching Authentic while on a Zoom call with a friend. American Pharaoh from the side of a road in Seattle while driving Uber. Orb at Portland Meadows while on air hosting a show on local radio. Super Saver from a parking lot at Portland Meadows because I’d had a panic attack 20 minutes earlier. 

The one that always sticks to me from my youth was Sunday Silence in 1989. I was almost nine years old and for some reason the East Coast/West Coast rivalry he had with Easy Goer captivated me. I had really gotten into racing as a kid and 1989 seemed to be when I started obsessing on it. I can still tell you who won some of the stakes that year at Longacres. But Sunday Silence routinely beating Easy Goer that year just hooked me. Sure, the Preakness was the most exciting race of their battles, but his Derby win was incredible. I remember watching it with my dad on television in the living room of the house I grew up in. 

I hope this year’s Derby and Oaks bring great memories for you wherever you watch it, and with whomever you watch it with. Also, I hope you make a pile of cash to go along with the memories. I’ll give you my picks in the Thursday column. Toss them and you should be good :).