Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem March 13, 2023

March 13th, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! A very fun Festival Day here at Tampa Bay Downs this past Saturday and certainly glad it’s in the rearview mirror. A wise friend and colleague told me once, “You know what the best part of big days are? When they’re over!”

He’s right. They’re fun to look back on, but in the midst of them, it’s just stress and craziness. So sitting here looking back at Saturday, it is kind of fun to remember now that the stress is over.

Tapit Trice was bet down from his 8-5 morning line to 1-2 when he left the starting gate. I was expecting 4-5 or even money on him, but he was 2-5 for much of the wagering period before finally going off at 1-2.

I didn’t think he actually started all that bad, but his acceleration from steps four to about 20 was just plain not great. Luis Saez had to kind of get his attention early and get him into the race before the race had really begun.

I often say, as racecallers we miss a lot of the race because we’re going from horse to horse in our binoculars instead of watching the race as a whole. When I got to Tapit Trice around the half-mile pole, he was coming under a ride and was ninth or 10th and out in the three- or four-path.

It wasn’t looking good. I made a mental note that he was in deep water at that point. By the time they got to the quarter pole, I could see he was starting to move but he really wasn’t gaining all that quickly. In fact, long shot Mikey Bananas was kind of running with him.

Then they got to the top of the lane. Once he and Classic Legacy hooked up just outside the 1/8th pole, it became clear that the winner was probably coming from one member of that duo. And it shortly became even more clear that winner was Tapit Trice. He accelerated nicely and won quite comfortably after what had looked like a somewhat uncomfortable trip.

When you watch a race on track, I feel like you experience the excitement of a horse race as a singular event. But I think many of us watch Kentucky Derby (G1) preps from home with a much different eye. It’s not only judged on its merits, but it’s judged in comparison to other Derby preps, and also whether or not we think that a horse or horses are going to continue on to the First Saturday in May and become real players.

When I switched on Twitter, I was excited to see the reaction. First of all, I was a little surprised. Like I said earlier, Tapit Trice's start wasn’t all that bad, so I was up at the leaders when he fell behind earlier, so I didn’t really see it. But watching it back on replay, it was clear that he was significantly behind early on.

It seemed reactions were a little mixed between people who were saying he was his worst enemy and caused his own issues, and maybe caused the reason the race wasn’t all that fast. But many also seemed impressed by the effort because we don’t see a lot of deep closers like that on the Tampa main track.

Folks that seemed to like the effort also seemed to think that if he is able to remedy his slow beginnings, maybe he will be able to be closer up and thus more able to catch better horses as he goes on. It sounds as though the Blue Grass S. (G1) at Keeneland might be his next start.

I feel like he’s in a little bit of a similar spot as our Tampa Bay Derby (G3) winner was last year. After Classic Causeway won the Tampa Bay Derby last year, he was ranked fourth or fifth in the future pools as well as many expert lists.

I think Tapit Trice will find himself in a similar spot this week. However, Classic Causeway laid an egg in the Florida Derby (G1) and was very much dismissed come the First Saturday in May. I think if Tapit Trice runs a big one in the Blue Grass, he’ll be a top four or five choice in the Kentucky Derby. If not, well, you’ll get a price if you like him at Churchill Downs.

All in all, a memorable day, and I hope it was a good one for you at the windows!