Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem March 25, 2024

March 25th, 2024

A good Monday Morning to you all! Coming off of a 12-race Florida Cup Day card at Tampa Bay Downs, I'm so ready to enjoy a quiet Monday and I’m sure everyone on Twitter/X will be chill and no drama will be had. Florida Cup Day is kind of our last "big day" of the season at Tampa, so looking forward to these final five or six weekends before we wrap it up on Kentucky Derby Day. 

Speaking of Kentucky Derby (G1), this weekend’s races at Fair Grounds and Turfway were all pretty solid. So let’s talk about a few of them, shall we? 

Start at Turfway where Endlessly once again was very impressive on the synthetic in scoring the win in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3). After a solid effort at Golden Gate Fields and three wins on the grass, Michael McCarthy has managed this horse so well, shipping cross country to take home the $400,000 winner’s share of the Ruby. He said after the race that he will likely go back to turf and the American Turf (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day is a likely spot for him. He obviously has the points now to go to the Kentucky Derby but I really respect that he’s going to put his horse where he thinks the best chances for success lie. 

The Kentucky Derby is such a unique thing in our business. I totally understand why anyone who has a shot to run in it will take it. It’s a once in a lifetime thing for many, so why not take a chance? But I also think that it’s not for everyone and this horse hasn’t run over the dirt yet. 

The Ruby is unique in that it is over a synthetic surface but we’ve seen horses like Rich Strike, Two Phil's, and Animal Kingdom all come from the Ruby to run great on the dirt in Louisville. I think it’s very cool that there’s a major prep to give synthetic horses or even grass horses a shot to get those points and go if they choose to. 

It sounds like West Saratoga, who ran second in the Ruby, is going to go and it would be a first time to start in the big race for trainer Larry Demeritte. As I said early, I totally understand why anyone who can would take a shot in the race, and this horse is so honest that I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he hit the board. 

Over in New Orleans it was a big late close from both the winner Catching Freedom and the runner-up Honor Marie to run one-two in the Louisiana Derby (G2). I’m having a tough time figuring out right now if either one of these two interests me in six weeks at the Kentucky Derby. Both have deep-closing styles, and while those types of horse have won recent runnings of the Derby, it certainly seems like a tougher path to victory. 

The performance of the day at Fair Grounds to me on Saturday was turned in by I’m Very Busy in the Muniz Memorial (G2). I was so excited for that race and thought that some value could be had by any number of live long shots. As it turned out, the favorite absolutely smashed a really good field and displayed a turn of foot that was something to behold. He has to be considered a major player in the turf division going forward all summer long.  

It was an exciting weekend on the track. Off the track, I was sad to hear about the passing of trainer George Bryant. We’d had George on the podcast a couple of times over the years and talked about his career in racing as well as the battle he was going through with cancer. He was very public about his battle and I believe through sharing his story he had a big effect on a lot of people in the racing world and beyond. He leaves behind two children and I wanted to send condolences to his entire family and all his friends. 

Rest in peace George.