Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Jan. 15, 2024

January 15th, 2024

A good Monday morning to you all! Hope everyone is staying warm wherever you’re at. It’s so funny to be down here in Florida when it gets cold, as we all complain when it drops below 60 degrees while most of the country is stuck in sub-freezing temperatures and snow falling. We’ve had a fair bit of rain this last week here in Tampa, but we were able to compete over a fast track both Saturday and Sunday, and we had some really interesting storylines throughout the weekend.

Book’em Danno came into the Pasco Stakes as the likely big favorite and with plans to go to Saudi Arabia should he fare well on Saturday here. Despite getting a wide trip as they stacked up five across the track midway on the turn, Book’em Danno accelerated away nicely at the top of the stretch and pulled clear to win in dominating fashion by 12 lengths. The Saudi Derby they’re pointing him to is worth $1.5 million, and I have to think with that being the goal they’re not really looking toward our new $5,000,000 Kentucky Derby (G1) here in the states. But maybe if he runs big back there, a shot in the Pat Day Mile back in Kentucky on the Derby undercard is in the mix?

One of the cooler little moments of the weekend at Tampa Bay Downs was on Sunday. It was kind of a quiet day on the track with the chilly weather, but we had some celebrity guests, as Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper was there along with Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Ronde Barber. They did an interview with Acacia Clement on the Fox broadcast, and it was cool to see them talk about their enjoyment of Tampa Bay Downs, as both come out semi-regularly to the races. I think Lou Piniella is still my favorite local celeb to visit, but seeing these two enjoying the day was pretty great.

My favorite part of the interview was when Acacia asked them if they were having any luck, and Coach Cooper looked at her and said very coyly, “That last race was pretty good to us,” followed by a mischievous laugh between him and Ronde. I think any horseplayer watching the interview knew exactly what that meant. They must have smashed the race pretty good, but it was such a clear buddy moment after a good score.

There are few things that can bring us together more as players as hitting something nice with a buddy. I’ve written a few times on this blog about the potential pitfalls of playing group tickets or tickets with other people, but when it does work out, it’s one of the most fun things that can happen in the game. Nice hit, Coach!

This is always a fun time of year for us here at Tampa Bay Downs as we get closer to the Sam F. Davis (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) portion of our season. The weather starts to get better, and we start seeing some big names shipping in to run. We saw three Todd Pletcher first-time starters here this weekend, a Chad Brown firster, and Christophe Clement had a few as well. They’ve all used Tampa as a jump-off for some nice runners in recent years, including Gina Romantica, Money Supply, Kingsbarns, and more.

Everyone have a great week!