Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Aug. 28, 2023
A good Monday morning to you all! I hope everyone is doing alright today. Another obviously tough weekend in racing, and I talked about that a fair bit on my podcast for Monday. My normal mantra for the Monday column is to talk about something I liked from the weekend, and when we have hard days in racing like Saturday it’s sometimes hard to find the good. In fact, I saw lots of people online suggesting that others shouldn’t feel good after the Travers S. (G1) win by Arcangelo because it wasn’t right in their minds to do so.
I’m not here to tell anyone how they should feel or react to something. As a friend of mine on Twitter said back on Whitney Day, everyone grieves and processes difficult things in different ways. Personally, I always try to find good even when things are bad. I think it’s my way of not getting down and truly mired in the awful things that can happen in the sport, and just the world in general. Is it a defense mechanism or just a chosen outlook? I suppose you can decide and judge me and others for it.
All that said, Arcangelo has easily been my favorite on-track story of the year. I rarely am a “favorite horse” kind of person. Maybe it’s the gambler in me, but it’s just not all that common for me to really fall in love with a specific horse that I don’t have a deeper connection with. Zenyatta and Captain Condo are definitely the two horses that I didn’t own part of that have brought the most love and excitement in my racing life. Owning a horse takes your admiration and love for these athletes to an entirely new, exciting, and sometimes terrifying level.
Something about this horse and his story just connected more to me than most do. I always find myself rooting for the smaller barns to get their day in the sun because I know how hard it is to beat those barns at the top of the food chain. They are loaded with huge-money owners and top horses at every level, condition, and distance. So I was rooting for Jena and company going into the Belmont S. (G1). The video of all of them watching and celebrating that race I think will forever be etched into the memories of many of us race fans.
This win once again showcased what I think is Arcangelo’s greatest strength, and that’s his quickness and athleticism. When Irad Ortiz Jr. took off with Forte from the gates, he certainly appeared like he was trying to stay off the rail and out in the way of Javier Castellano and Arcangelo. No worries for them, though; they quickly dropped back, got to the rail, and ran up into the spot that should have belonged to Forte. Instead, Forte slowly dropped back through the field down the backstretch, while Arcangelo found himself in a perfect spot behind the trio up top.
If you watch his Peter Pan (G3) and Belmont, there are a few points in each where he has to make subtle moves like that, and every time Javier asks him he responds perfectly.
I’m really excited to see where the Arcangelo story continues to go. He’s certainly stamped himself as the top three-year-old right now, and I can’t wait to see him eventually run against the older boys. I think sometimes in racing we all worry too soon about what is ahead for our favorite runners, but I suppose we do that in all areas of life.
Anyway, here’s hoping this week is a better one, and that we continue to dialogue and work towards changes that will help to avoid days like Saturday and meets like this Saratoga one has been. I think this has been tough for everyone, and we all want the same thing — exciting and safe racing. How we get there, well I’m sure we’ll have plenty of suggestions.