Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Nov. 23, 2023

November 23rd, 2023

Jason discusses some of the things in his racing life that he's thankful for on this Thanksgiving holiday. 

A good Thursday morning to you all and a Happy Thanksgiving! I know lots of tracks are running today so if you’re firing at the windows or just loading up on Turkey, I hope the day is a memorable one for you. My plans are to enjoy a quiet day around the house and then go to a friend’s house for a “Friendsgiving” of sorts. I feel like Florida has so many people like myself who are from other areas that Friendsgivings happen a lot more down here than other places I’ve lived. 

The last few years for the Thanksgiving column I’ve done a list of things I'm grateful for, generally centered around horse racing. Last year I also had members of our Churchill Downs team share some things that they were grateful for. I don’t love turkey to be honest, but I love the idea of people showing gratitude for the things in which they feel thankful for in their lives. We all have so many battles and hurdles and the world can be such a tough and cruel place. But it’s also filled with beauty and with a sea of little moments and interactions that leave us for the better and not the worse. 

I’m writing this after finishing up opening day at Tampa Bay Downs so I’m certainly feeling some gratitude about my career. I try at least once a day to have a conscious moment of gratitude that I get to do something I enjoy for work. Walking into Tampa Bay Downs or Colonial Downs for that matter has never felt like a “job” and I’m beyond grateful to get to call races at both spots. It’s such a neat experience to have a craft and try to improve on it, but mostly it’s just fun to be some little part of the game of racing each day. I’ve been given more opportunities than I probably deserve in racing and for that I”m beyond thankful. Getting to do content at Twinspires through the podcast and these columns has allowed me to connect and meet with horseplayers and racing fans from all over the country. It’s just such a tremendous thing to get to do.  

The other thing with racing is that it’s given me much of my community. I live thousands of miles from home and from my mom and sister. Yet every year on Thanksgiving people from racing invite me over to their homes for dinner. Many of my closest friends have come from this game and this industry. I led a life for many years where I didn’t have much community, all my own doing, but I know how hard it can be to go through life without friends or confidants. So I’m very grateful for those in my life that I met through racing. 

The last thing I’m feeling grateful for in racing right now is getting to learn from people. One of the joys of the internet and of doing my podcast is getting to talk with interesting people from all areas of the sport, but particularly horseplayers. As a younger person I always wanted to be a good horseplayer, but I truly had zero ability or knowledge about how to actually do that. I also didn’t have the temperament or demeanor that I’ve seen from the many good players I’ve gotten to interview. It’s such a specific skill to be a good handicapper but moreso a good bettor, and I just find it utterly fascinating the people who can have the intelligence and discipline to truly be good at this game. 

I was always an ok student growing up and I think that’s because I didn’t have much of a passion for learning. As I’ve gotten older I’m so happy that has changed for me. I try to learn lots of things and learning from horseplayers has been a really fascinating education in how they not only succeed in this game, but how they see the game, and where they want it to go.  

Feeling thankful here in Clearwater,