Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Dec. 4, 2023

December 4th, 2023

Jason looks back at a very interesting running of the Remsen Stakes from Saturday. 

A good Monday morning to you all! The first weekend in December is in the books and we enter two of the quieter weeks on the horse racing calendar in regards to top-level stakes action. I believe the Starlet (G2) at Los Alamitos is the only graded stakes coming up next weekend, and that race perennially seems to be a small-field, Bob Baffert showcase race. But, as always, the beauty of our game as horseplayers and fans is that every race could be the next big moment or big score. Wednesday’s 7th at Tampa might be where someone hits the biggest bet of their life. 

Even though big moments can happen in any type of race, I thought the big moment this weekend happened in one of the biggest races of the weekend, the Remsen (G2). The Remsen is such a neat race on the calendar and has annually produced some really nice horses coming out of it that went on to three year-old success. This past Saturday’s edition, in my opinion, was one of the more memorable ones of the last 10 years. 

So many horses were going gate-to-wire on Saturday at Aqueduct that the speed and inside pronouncements were coming in hot and heavy on social media. Since we were racing at Tampa, I only got to watch the stakes races live, but there were certainly a lot of front-running winners. But there were also horses coming from the clouds to pick up seconds and thirds in several spots throughout the card, so I do have to wonder how super strong was any bias. I think you kind of have to look race by race and see if maybe strong internal fractions caused some runners to fade. I just have a hard time calling a total bias when several horses are coming from last to hit the board. 

Now, in the case of Sierra Leone, I don’t think bias or any part of the track had anything to do with him not winning. I suppose you could make the argument that the distance caught up to him as he was going 1 1/8 miles in just his second career start. He also went so wide that he ran some extra ground. But to me he simply hit the front and idled. His momentum going by Dornach seemed steady enough at that point to where he seemingly should have just gone on with it. To my eye, it looked like he got about three-quarters of a length ahead before Dornach started to come back. Or, rather, Sierra Leone started to slow down. 

One thing to keep in mind is how Sierra Leone in the midst of his rally went from about the six or seven path down to the two path as he was making his move. While he was certainly gaining and eventually passing Dornach, sometimes when horses lug from the outer paths to the inner paths there’s a bit of an optical illusion that they’re making up ground faster than they actually are. You see it all the time when horses will lug in like that and it looks like they’re gaining a lot, then they seem to flatten out. In reality, it just looked like they were closing in faster than they were because of that lateral movement. 

I’m super curious to see what happens with both these two runners as they begin their roads towards the Kentucky Derby (G1). I wasn’t all that fired up about Sierra Leone’s debut back on Breeders’ Cup Day, but I thought there were some obvious major positives coming out of the Remsen. I suppose at least one negative as well. One of the knocks on the Remsen in recent years has been the top runners not coming back and winning their next starts. You can be sure wherever Dornach and Sierra Leone show up next that they’ll take some serious money at the windows. Do we try and beat them? We shall see!