Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem June 24, 2024

June 24th, 2024

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good weekend and is staying cool, as I know a lot of the country is getting hit hard with a heat wave. I went down to Miami for the weekend and in Florida, it seems like it’s just always low 90s and humid this time of year. Every day, the same. And mix in some thundershowers. I got to go down to Gulfstream Park for a couple of days and visit with Pete Aiello and enjoy the races down there.

One of the really interesting things about sitting with Pete was talking about handicapping and watching some of the races. I think over the last several years on my podcast we’ve been so focused on the betting side of things that we rarely talk about handicapping the races and improving our skills in that way. Part of that is that I think handicapping races on the radio can get a little boring sometimes. But also I think the topic is often covered so well by people who, frankly, are better at it than I am. Like all of us, I want to get better, and sometimes I think the best way is seeing how other people do it. I think with betting and handicapping so many people end up defaulting to old ways and often go along with the crowd, which, of course, is the exact wrong thing in parimutuel wagering.

This weekend saw the state of Ohio get to showcase its biggest race, as the Ohio Derby (G3) was run at the Big T. I’ve always heard people refer to both Thistledown and Timonium as “the Big T,” so you guys can fight it out in the comments. I just heard of Thistledown before I heard about Timonium, so Thistle gets the nod from me. Batten Down scored wire to wire and defeated heavily favored Catching Freedom in the process. Batten Down has now won two races in a row, both in open-length, frontrunning fashion.

The Kentucky Derby (G1) is often a key race, and it makes sense because it usually features 20 of the best horses in their division. Also, there are so many big-purse Derbies throughout the rest of this summer that often horses from the Triple Crown trail can go off and not face a ton of competition and get big wins. But I believe so far, only Dornoch and Society Man have come back to win their next races after the Derby. Now, of course, more horses from the Derby will come back and win races this summer. The reason I bring this up, though, is that this is my second favorite time of year for going against big favorites.

The first will always be newly turned three-year-olds who were good at age 2. Those horses always get crushed in early Derby prep races and so often get beat because their rivals have caught up to them. So often two-year-old racing feels like 13- or 14-year-old baseball. You get the kids who hit their growth spurt early and they dominate the other kids. Then everyone catches up and at 15 and 16, things are more even.

But for horses like Catching Freedom and those coming out of the Triple Crown series, they so often offer chances at going against underlaid horses. Now, Catching Freedom should have been favored in the Ohio Derby because he’d run better and faster than most the others. But 2-5 was a little low. These horses coming out of the Triple Crown series have so much name power behind them that the public will often overbet them. Not to mention, the second half of their three-year-old season, we’re starting to see other horses run who maybe got late starts, or are late-maturing types. Every year, there are “second-half” three-year-olds who sometimes move to the forefront of the division. This year feels like that’s ripe to happen again.

Everyone have a good week!