Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Dec. 12, 2022

December 12th, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! I wanted to write today about Quarter Horse racing. This past weekend was the annual Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos as well as the $2 Million Futurity, and it really is in my opinion one of the more fun weekends of the year of any type of racing. I wasn’t raised on Quarter Horse racing in Washington, and honestly didn’t really know much of it until 2005 when I started going to Portland Meadows to practice announcing. Over the years, though, my appreciation for Quarter Horse racing has continued to grow. 

To be quite honest, when I first started at Portland Meadows, I was a total Thoroughbred guy. We always ran two Quarter Horse races at the start of the card and, if anything, I thought they were an annoyance. I remember having thoughts like “let’s get these two races out of the way so we can get the real racing started.” Thoroughbreds were my first racing love and still are to this day. I think initially I just didn’t respect a Quarter Horse race. There didn’t seem like any tactics or handicapping; it was just break good and see how fast you can go. I guess maybe it didn’t appeal to my analytical enjoyment the way handicapping a Thoroughbred race did. 

I look back now and realize that’s not really the case. Handicapping "the Qs" is its own challenge and its own art form. I have some close friends who are accomplished Quarter Horse players and it's been fascinating to see their processes and learn what they’re looking for and how they approach the races. 

The thing that eventually got me most interested in the Quarter Horse races, though, was the passion of the people that race them and the horses themselves. At Portland Meadows the crowds of people for those first two Quarter Horse races on the rail were often bigger than the crowds for their Thoroughbred counterparts. The owners and trainers of the Quarter Horses always seemed to bring out more friends to watch their horses. They would hoot and holler and really got into the races, which as an announcer, made them more fun. 

I think I watched Los Alamitos racing every night it was on from probably 2008 through 2014 or so. I’ve probably been to the races there five or six times on track and even hit the $2 Pick 6 there one night (it paid $76). Living on the west coast it was often the last track running, and it was almost like being a part of a little club. There’s still a few folks on Twitter that follow and talk about it every week. 

This year’s Champion of Champions was one of the more highly anticipated runnings of the race in recent years. You had four horses on paper who all looked like they could win, but it was Empressum all the way out in post 10 who broke sharpest and dominated throughout. One of the fun quirks of Quarter Horse racing is the angle is deceiving on television and it looks like the inside horses are ahead when they really aren’t. Watching the race live it almost looks as though Empressum is coming from off the pace, but he was basically a gate-to-wire winner. He's a very cool horse who has now won 17 of 23 career starts. If you look at the chart for the race, the short comment for Empressum says nothing about his actual trip in the race. It just says “World Champion.” Indeed! 

Have a great week everyone!