Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem: June 12, 2023

June 12th, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! Writing again from Florida after a quick trip up to Houston to call the races at Sam Houston this past weekend. Was fun to dust off my Quarter Horse calling chops for a few days and get to knock another track off of the visit list.

I think that makes 67 tracks I’ve gotten to visit for a day of racing. Also made a quick pit stop at Delta Downs to visit with the great Don Stevens for a bit. Don really does a great job of promoting and representing Delta Downs, and he’s always so good to talk with. He’s built up a great following of fans and players there, and his efforts are very much noticed and respected by so many.

I suppose the Belmont Stakes (G1) is the only topic to discuss today. We could look back at the Triple Crown as a whole, but the Belmont was so good that I think it deserves all of the attention here. Granted, I was thrilled to see Arcangelo win because I picked him on top in my column this past Thursday. But really I thought the race encapsulated so many great things about horse racing, all in the span of two-and-a-half minutes.

Javier Castellano looked for much of the race like he had horse, but it also didn’t look like he had a truly comfortable spot until the second half of the race. Arcangelo just seemed to go anywhere Javier wanted him to go, and when he came through inside of National Treasure, man did I start to get pumped. I can count on my fingers the number of times the last several years I’ve legitimately screamed for a horse. Zenyatta in the 2010 Classic was probably my most visceral howl. But this one was up there.

After the race, I immediately went to Twitter and was excited to see that so many people seemed just as excited as I was about the result. The entire card had honestly been kind of blah for me. It was just super formful and nothing particularly exciting, with the exception of Clairiere and Cody’s Wish, but again, two logical favorites. Big days often chalk out, and sometimes the best horses just win. But the Belmont Stakes honestly wiped away any meh feelings I had on Saturday.

We had the good fortune to have trainer Jena Antonucci on the show a couple of weeks ago to talk about this horse. I’m always biased toward people who come on the podcast, but Jena has just always struck me as such a solid trainer and consummate horse person. It’s always exciting seeing someone in the sport get their moment in the sun, and that was certainly the case on Saturday with Jena and her entire team.

When I got back to my hotel room Saturday night, I finally saw the video that America’s Best Racing put out of Jena and her team cheering home Arcangelo. I think I watched it five straight times that night and a couple of times on Sunday. The pure excitement, hysteria, and celebration are just magical.

I said on Monday’s podcast, experiencing a win or a high after a long journey to get there is probably one of the greatest things that happens in our lives. And it doesn’t need to be something on TV or a mega-race like the Belmont S., although this example of Jena and her team is amazing. But I think we all have battles and things we commit our time and efforts to. And when we reach a point where all that work leads to a memorable win or success, it’s not only a time to celebrate that win, but to celebrate all it took to bring you there.

I think Saturday’s Belmont was for me a great reminder of the power of the journey. Jena’s win, of course, will represent so much more than just a win, and that, in and of itself, is a great thing. It was nice to see so many come together in racing to celebrate a great race and a great story.

Have a good week, everyone!