Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Dec. 21, 2023

December 21st, 2023

A good Thursday morning to you all! Hope everyone is having a good holiday season. I’ve been trying to do some holiday activities down here in Florida, and it dipped down into the 50s the last couple of days, which is about as wintry as it gets down here!

I’m definitely feeling a little homesick this week, as I wish I was back in Seattle for the holidays with my family but alas, we have racing to do down here! We actually run a Christmas Eve card at Tampa and it’s pretty fun. I believe it’s just us and Gulfstream Park on Sunday, so it feels like our own little Florida day at the races. Hope you’ll tune in!

Speaking of the holidays, I bought a gift for a racing gift exchange that I will participate in this morning. I struggled to find something racing-related to get for the person, and it got me thinking about things we could do better as an industry in regards to gifts and merchandise. Our sport has an amazing history, and there are so many cool little things that are available, but there are things I wish we had more of.

First of all, I wish we had more retro T-shirts for racing. I know there are some, but with the history of our sport and all the closed racetracks, and how much people enjoy retro clothes, I think it would be very cool. If someone made a good Longacres shirt, I’d order one in two seconds. I suppose like any business endeavor, it has to have a market big enough to sustain it, but with so many great old tracks and horses, I just feel like it would be really cool. Tampa Bay Downs has had several names in existence, and I’d be all over a Florida Downs or Sunshine Park T-shirt!

The site eBay has always been my go-to for grabbing cool racing stuff. I have an old Longacres Velcro wallet back at my mom’s house that I got on there as well as some old Longacres glasses. Every once in a while, I’ll comb around there to see if there’s stuff from Portland Meadows or Tampa Bay Downs that looks old and interesting. Even just looking tonight, I saw a ton of old pins, programs, win pictures, and other giveaway items from racing yesteryear.

The best horse racing gift I ever got was back about 15 years ago. George Collelo, who for years has been a handicapper and writer with the Daily Racing Form, sent me the Longacres Daily Racing Form from the day I was born. I just found it to be such a thoughtful gift and it was a Sunday stakes day too, so there was a story about Trooper Seven! Just something I’ve always treasured and found to be such a kind gesture and a very neat keepsake.

I hope whatever holiday you’re celebrating this year is filled with great memories, family, friends, and hopefully a good gift or two. I know holidays are also very tough for many people for a variety of reasons, so if that is you, I hope you find some comfort throughout. We’ll be back next Thursday to hopefully talk about Santa Anita’s opening day as well as look back a little more on 2023 as it winds down.

Good luck out there this weekend!