Jason Beem's Thursday Column for June 22, 2023

June 22nd, 2023

A good Thursday morning to you all. And a happy now second day of summer! Because of my involvement in horse racing, I always feel like my calendar is split up by racing seasons more than by the actual solstices and equinoxes.

To me the new year always starts with the day after Christmas when Santa Anita kicks off. Even though the horses in the Malibu S. (G1) are still three, it just feels like after the one day of the year that the industry fully takes off, that it is a bit of a reset. And even though spring technically starts on March 20, for me it always feels like it starts the weekend of the Blue Grass (G1), Santa Anita Derby (G1), and Wood Memorial (G2).

I will say that living down here in Florida has completely thrown off my idea of seasons anyways from a weather standpoint. I don’t know if it will ever feel normal to be enjoying a 70-degree morning walk in February. I’m not complaining, but it is strange. 

I think for most in the racing world, summer begins when Saratoga and Del Mar get underway. Our two most celebrated meets on different ends of the continent always feel like such a shift in the racing calendar. So many of us look forward to them, and every year they come with such anticipation and seem to slip away ever so quickly. Once Labor Day wraps up, it always feels like summer comes to an abrupt end. Kids back in school, Belmont and Los Alamitos begin, again, just a full-on shift. 

I’ve been blessed the last four summers to get to call races at Colonial Downs. Well blessed for three of them, 2020 and the meet canceled by Covid was no blessing. But as my wonderful friend and former colleague at Colonial Jessica Paquette would say, it’s like summer camp for racetrackers. I never thought of it that way before she said it, but it kind of is. Living in a rental for 10 weeks, driving out into the woods to get to the track, eating out a lot, it kind of is like summer camp for the racetrackers.

I’ve always stayed in Richmond, which is about 30 miles west of the track since there isn’t a whole lot going on in New Kent. The one restaurant a lot of the racetrackers go to by the track is the Don Miguel Mexican restaurant. Jess and I were at dinner with one of the Equibase chartcallers there last year and the waitress came up and gushed over Jess “We always see you on the TV at the track!” Jess immediately told the nice server “that’s our announcer there,” and the server looked at me, half-smiled, and went right back to Jess “We really love you on the TV!” Humble pie for dessert please! 

I’ll certainly write more about Colonial in the column once I get up there and the season gets underway. It’s such a fun place to call races with all the turf action and the huge fields. It’s a great challenge but also great fun. New ownership this year with Churchill Downs purchasing the track along with some new management, and of course some new races as the Arlington Million (G1), Beverly D., (G1) and Secretariat (G1) will all be run there for the first time. I look forward to having a knot in my stomach all week before that day. 

Not sure where I heard it, whether in a movie or a podcast, but I remember someone once saying “you only have so many summers left.” I think about that a lot in relation to things in racing. We all only get so many Derbies. And so many Saratogas.

Summer from a weather standpoint is my least favorite time of year. I hate the heat and prefer chilly weather. But the feeling of summer is the best. I don’t know if it comes from being in school, but it’s a sense of freedom. It’s a sense of possibility and anticipation. I hope that this summer for you dear reader is filled with anticipation and great experiences. With travel and memories and family and winners on turf and dirt. Enjoy the summer!