Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Jan. 4, 2024
A good Thursday morning to you all! Welcome to 2024 in horse racing. Feels a lot like 2023 but, hey, a new year means new opportunities and new goals so with that, here are my 2024 personal racing resolutions. I feel like we have enough of “what the game needs to do” stuff out there, so I’m just going to set forth some personal resolutions.
First of all, I want to be more vocal and speak out more when I have opinions. I have the luxury of not only this column, but a four-day-a-week podcast with which I can share my thoughts and pontifications on all aspects of the game of racing. I tend to not wade too much into controversial topics, mostly just because it’s not really my style. But I also have often avoided talking about certain topics or people out of fear of retribution or just not wanting to cause myself any trouble.
I’ve always thought I had a good gauge on what was appropriate to address and how to do it, but I’ve also always avoided confrontation of any kind because, frankly, I don’t like it at all. However, I would like to take a few more chances in that way, not only on my show, but on my social media platforms. My instinct on Twitter is just to ignore things and talk about them on my show because then I have the comfort of just speaking to me and my audience. Twitter is a whole different story and the minute someone retweets you, you go from your audience to theirs. I’ve never had a tweet that got lots of traction that didn’t eventually start getting some weird or cruel responses from people way outside my circles. Just the nature of that platform.
Most years when I do my personal racing resolutions, it always includes tracks that I’d like to visit. I knocked off a few more new ones in 2023, including Sam Houston Race Park, where I got to fill in announcing for a week as well as Penn National, Finger Lakes, and a couple of harness tracks as well with Mohawk and The Red Mile.
I think it’s now 74 tracks I've been to between all the types of horse racing in North America. There are just not too many left that I haven’t been to that I really want to see. Maybe Charlottetown up on Prince Edward Island? But I think my real track that I hope to visit this year is Golden Gate Fields. I’ve probably spent at least 25 or 30 race days at Golden Gate Fields over the years. From 2016 to 2020, I usually went for at least two weekends of racing per season. It’s such a fun track to visit, and I’m terribly sad it’s going to close. I’m hoping to get home either in the spring or fall to Seattle to visit family and if I do go back in the spring, I definitely want to spend one more day at GGF.
I suppose my real resolution for the year is just try to do good work and be a good ambassador for the sport. We spend so much time talking about what racing needs to change and improve that sometimes it feels powerless as someone who doesn’t really have the power to make big-level decisions and facilitate that kind of change. So I think the best thing for us worker bees is to just try to do as good a job as we can. Try and improve my performance and communication about the sport. Try to offer good guests on the podcast and interesting topics. Say hello to people when they come out to the track I’m working at. I’ve always been better at trying to facilitate change at the micro and more personal level than in a big-picture kind of way. But I think there is always room to improve in that.
I hope no matter what you’re hoping to do in racing in 2024 that you’re able to find some happiness and enjoyment in the game. It’s still great and still worth fighting for.