Jason Beem's Thursday Column for Aug. 24, 2023

August 24th, 2023

A good Thursday morning to you all! One of the bigger racing weekends of the year is on tap and I’m honestly very excited for the Travers (G1) at Saratoga as it feels like a true showdown of some of the top three-year-olds in training.

Arcangelo has been one of my favorites this year and I’m certainly hoping that he pulls off another big win in the Travers. We had trainer Jena Antonucci on my podcast after his win in the Peter Pan (G2) and the confidence she had in the horse was pretty incredible. It was enough to make me tout him here in this column for the Belmont and actually post a winner for once. 

One of the very cool things about Arcangelo has been the athleticism he has shown in his races. Whether it’s been getting to an opening or getting out of a tough spot, he seems to do it pretty effortlessly.

I was about to type, “the Travers will be his biggest test yet,” but is that really true? I mean, Arcangelo beat several of these rivals in the Belmont. Now he gets to shorten back up in distance. I know Forte won last time but it wasn’t exactly some crazy great performance, so I kind of think Arcangelo is actually the horse to beat in the Travers. He’s my pick again. 

Not to be outdone this weekend is Friday’s Charles Town Classic (G2) night at Charles Town. I had the good pleasure to attend the Charles Town Classic last year and if we weren’t running at Colonial Downs on Friday, I’d 100% be going back for a repeat visit. It was one of the most fun nights of racing I’ve been to in a long time. 

It’s a good card and I’ll certainly be watching, but the folks in West Virginia know how to have fun at the racetrack. It really did feel like just a big party and some horse races broke out. My only real complaint was that it seemed like there were only five tellers working for a crowd of 5,000. But top to bottom it was one of the most fun nights I’d had at the races in a while. 

Night racing is, in my opinion, more fun than day racing. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m working, I much prefer daytime racing. Mostly because as I get older, it’s just much easier to see during the day than at night under the lights. But as a fan, give me night racing all day long. Maybe it’s from growing up in Seattle where both Longacres and Emerald Downs have always had a weeknight racing presence during their seasons. Even when we went down to Portland Meadows to visit, it was usually racing at night. 

There’s a literal and figurative electricity that comes with night racing that always makes it feel just a bit more exciting. My first few times visiting Churchill Downs were always on Wednesday afternoons back in 2006 and 2007 and it always felt so underwhelming. There was just a smattering of people and other than getting to visit with Luke Kruytbosch, it just wasn’t much fun. Fast forward to 2019 and I got to attend a Downs After Dark card and my view on live racing at Churchill completely flipped. 

I wish more tracks ran at night, but I understand why many don’t. But for those of you lucky enough to get to go to Charles Town Classic on Friday night, I hope it’s a big fun party!