Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Nov. 20, 2023

November 20th, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a good weekend and you're excited for Thanksgiving week to be here. I feel like Halloween was a week ago and November has flown by. I was very excited to see Integration score so nicely this past Saturday in the Hill Prince S. up at Aqueduct. I’ve always been pretty open about my bias toward horses that I’ve had the pleasure of calling, and his effort in the Virginia Derby (G3) was sensational. I thought we might even have seen him show up at the Breeders’ Cup, but that would obviously have been pretty ambitious off of just two starts. But maybe the Pegasus Turf on the horizon? He’s certainly exciting!

This Wednesday, we open up our winter season down here at Tampa Bay Downs and for me, it’ll be my third year here. It’s funny how different the start of each season feels at the racetrack. I was thinking about that in regards to Colonial Downs this past summer. As an outsider, I look at other meets and generally remember who wins the big races each year, but for the most part, the years often run together. When you’re at a track or work there, it seems like each one has a very distinct feel.

My first season at Tampa in 2021 will always be memorable to me because everything and everyone was so new. I feel like I tend to identify racing seasons as much with what’s going on in my life at the time as with what happens on the track. Last season felt much calmer just because I think I knew what to expect. One of our stewards passed away, and he was the person I talked to most up on the roof, so it’s going to be strange without him there.

Opening day card for Wednesday features over 10 horses per race, and there are a few new jockeys and trainers that should be here this season. One thing that seems to happen every year is some new riders show up but often will leave after a few weeks. I’ve noticed regardless of what circuit you’re at, new riders breaking through is tough. Unless you have a lot of mounts for a big barn, it’s just tough to break in because so many of the riders and trainers have long-standing relationships.

Samy Camacho has had a strong hold here on the riders' standings for a few years now. There had been mention that maybe he might head to Aqueduct or Gulfstream this season, but he’s got a slew of mounts on opening day, so maybe he’s going to once again take a run at the title here. I know some new barns are coming back, including past leading trainer Jamie Ness, who always seems to win wherever he goes. I’m curious if Gerald Bennett will maintain his spot atop the standings in that division. 

Tampa Bay Downs is such a fun track and one of the cool parts about working down here is it’s a track that people enjoy coming down to visit. For years at Portland Meadows, I don’t think anyone ever came to visit me or the track. Amazing what 70 degrees and sunny in the middle of winter will do for tourism! I hope we see you at Tampa Bay Downs this season or that you’ll join us on TwinSpires for the races. Best of luck and as the great Richard Grunder used to say, “Let’s make some memories!”