Jason Beem's Thursday Column for June 15, 2023

June 15th, 2023

A good Thursday to you all! Yesterday would have been my dad’s birthday so naturally I thought a lot about him throughout the day. His birthday and Father’s Day are always in the same week and I usually spend a fair bit of time this week looking at old pictures and remembering things about him. He’s been gone almost 22 years now, so the memories aren’t as clear as they used to be, but I’m still hanging onto them.

I think Father’s Day and horse racing have a strong connection for so many of us who participate in the game in some way. My dad introduced me to the game and I know lots and lots of friends whose introduction to racing came directly from trips with their dad to the track. I remember going to the track even as a little boy with my dad and sitting on his shoulders as the horses ran by at old Longacres Race Track in Renton, Washington.

We generally went on Thursday evenings and Sunday days to Longacres. My mom would usually give me a $20 bill on Sundays so I could bet $2 a race. My dad would take the $20 and make my bets for me. Of course I usually lost more than I won and I found out when I did finally hit a nice winner that my dad had just been pocketing the $20 and booking my action. I was a chalk-hound as a kid, so he was usually pretty safe.

Father’s Day is actually one of the few days I really enjoy Twitter anymore. It seems more than ever racing Twitter has just been a mess lately, so I’ve been trying to cut back a little on how much of that toxicity I let into my life. But Mother’s Day and Father’s Day both are really fun on there. It’s so neat to see everyone show pictures of their parents, share stories about them, or just remember them if they’re gone. I only have a handful of pictures of my dad on my phone and computer so I usually pick one or two to share.

While I don’t remember specific Father’s Days with my dad at the races, I do remember lots of things about our time together at the track, particularly Longacres. But it’s not so much specific memories or stories that stick with me as much as little fleeting things about that track or my dad. I remember the little carousel-shaped canopy that we would always go sit under down the home stretch. I remember going and playing on the toys between races, only to run out to the rail when there was a minute left until post time. I remember my dad making me go through and circle all of the first-time Lasix horses in the program. (Side note, one time my sister got a nosebleed and I told my mom to give her Lasix. My mom was not pleased with my dad at that moment.)

I feel like I could go on and on about anecdotes or memories of my dad at the track. I hear from a lot of my friends who love the races and their kids just don’t care at all about them and rarely come out. That always makes me sad just because I know how much I always looked forward to those trips with my dad. But I know things change. Technology has changed. Racing has changed. But I hope somewhere out there this weekend some fathers and their kids are attending the races. I hope the weather is glorious and memories are made and maybe even a few bucks won. I hope somewhere a 6-1-4 trifecta hits as my dad always used to play his birthday numbers in the trifecta.

Mostly, I hope that you out there reading this have a great day with your father or some warm memories to bring you comfort if he’s gone.

My dad and I at Arlington Park in 1995.