Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem April 22, 2024

April 22nd, 2024

Jason looks back at the weekend including the Illinois Derby win for Patriot Spirit and that horse's journey through his racing career. 

A good Monday morning to you all! Have we officially turned the corner into Derby season? Judging by the tweets I saw from Louisville on Saturday night, I think that town has. For us horseplayers, I think for many it has. I’m excited to really start looking at the Brisnet pp’s this week, but ultimately, remember, no decisions have to be made until Saturday at 2 minutes to post time. But honestly, part of the fun is all the hoopla and lead-up, at least for me. 

Just got done watching the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and was very happy to see Patriot Spirit score a really big win. I actually spoke about the race on my podcast last Thursday and kind of dismissed his chances to win the race based on how poorly he’d run in a couple of his longer distance races. While he figured to be on the lead, which he was, he’d just seemed that distance was not something he was craving. Clearly, trainer Michael Campbell knew more than I did as his horse jogged around the Hawthorne oval to a nice win. 

I’ve said many times on my show that trainer Michael Campbell is one of my favorite “small” barns around. He doesn’t run a ton of horses, usually just a few a month. He hasn’t had more than 100 starts in a year since 2010. He’s been training horses since the 1970s and over that time has won 787 races, including a few graded stakes. His few horses that do run, often run where I happen to work, at Tampa Bay Downs and Colonial Downs. His horses are always honest, quality runners, and just one of those barns over the years that I’ve really grown to appreciate getting to call their horses. I should note I’ve never met Mr. Campbell and couldn’t tell you what he looks like. Just know he’s a heck of a horse trainer. 

Patriot Spirit's win in the Illinois Derby was his third and biggest win from seven career starts. His debut last summer was one to remember at Colonial Downs. About ten minutes before that race I saw a co-worker who told me he “loves this 9 horse” that’s getting ready to debut. I didn’t think much of it until Patriot Spirit opened up to win by six. The normally reserved Jesus Castanon was patting the horse on his neck as they hit the wire and I could tell that he was obviously expecting a huge effort from the horse. 

His next start came in Iroquois at Churchill Downs and I told anyone who would listen about what a monster this horse was. He ran to the lead and set wicked fractions with Jesus trying to get him to relax. But the 44 and change opening half-mile sealed his fate as he faded down the lane. It’s been fun though to watch this horse’s journey as he started this Tampa Bay Downs season out with a win in the Inaugural Stakes. They tried the Sam F. Davis. and for some reason, he was very far off the pace and the trip didn’t suit him. 

Every horse’s journey has its twists and turns, its wins and losses. Well, I suppose not every horse wins and some never lose, but you catch my drift. It’s funny how some of these horses stick with us and we follow them closely. Others come in and out as races are run near and far. Patriot Spirit for me has always been a bit of a favorite even though he surprised me by dominating just now going long. Maybe he just needs to be on the lead? Whatever he lands next, I’m sure Michael Campbell will put him in the right spot as he clearly knows more about what his horse can do than this old racecaller. 

Everyone have a great week!