Jason Beem's Monday Morning Message April 10, 2023
A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone had a fun and profitable weekend as we’re now through all the preps, right?
For years, the Lexington was kind of an afterthought for the Kentucky Derby (G1) points race, although this year, it seems like it could have some added intrigue given the logjam of horses near the current cut line for points to be in the top 20. Now, of course, there will be defections of various sorts, but in recent years it seemed as though 20 points gave you a shot. This year, 40 doesn’t even get you in, as of now.
It seems like the new points structure has led to a lot of conversation amongst fans on who should get in and who shouldn’t. It’s clearly different from years past, when a second-place finish in a final big prep assured you of a spot in the gate on the first Saturday in May.
I personally enjoy the points system this way as opposed to some of the past iterations of it. Reason being, I like the idea of horses showing up to more than one dance. One of the tough parts of being a fan, and just someone who wants to see big and competitive fields, is that so often trainers spot their horses very conservatively and very infrequently. I like that the current system basically makes it so you have to have at least two strong efforts in big races at some point along the way.
I don’t know that any system will always allow for the best 20 horses to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. If a horse is late-developing and runs a troubled third or something in a final prep, well, then wheel back for the Lexington or we’ll see you in Baltimore. The path to the Kentucky Derby is out there, and certainly the connections can’t complain if they don’t have enough points to get in since they knew what was needed and what opportunities they’d have to get there.
As far as the races, I was unabashedly cheering home Tapit Trice to his win in the Blue Grass (G1). He was certainly into the race a bit more early than he was down here in Tampa, but it still doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to be a smooth and easy journey for him to find the winner’s circle at these higher levels.
My favorite horse ever was a gray from the Pacific Northwest named Captain Condo, and Tapit Trice gives me some of the same vibes as the Condo. A big, lumbering gray who likes to come from behind. His moves aren’t flashy, but he just seems to wear them down when the running gets going down the lane. Certainly, traffic and ground loss could be more of an issue with 19 rivals, but it’s pretty neat to see him going toward the Kentucky Derby as the second or third choice as of now.
The Wood Memorial (G2) certainly was a shocker with Lord Miles. I’ll be honest, I’d forgotten that he even ran in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) in his previous start. Oops. I looked back at his Brisnet past performances, and he’s just truly one of those horses I couldn’t have gotten to in that race.
A horseplayer friend of mine crushed the race and is actually coming on the podcast this week, so we’ll chat about how he got to Lord Miles. One fascinating thing about the Wood Memorial to me was if you watch as they’re running out of the first turn and onto the backstretch, you’ll see the horses who finished in that dramatic three-way battle, all right next to each other in third, fourth, and fifth. Knowing that, it was interesting to go back and watch the different trips each of the three got that still ended up with them finishing so close together.
I’m very curious to see if any of the horses on the bubble this year end up running in the Lexington Stakes this weekend, or the Beaumont for the Oaks, for that matter. Very small amount of points on the line behind the winning spot, and even two or four might be a big difference come four weeks from now. Everyone have a good week!