Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem May 13, 2024

May 13th, 2024

A good Monday morning to you all! The quiet weekend sandwiched between the two big days wasn’t all that quiet, at least on racing Twitter. We’ll get to that in a future column, though. Saturday was kind of my first chance since November to spend a Saturday laying on the couch watching racing on TwinSpires, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Mostly alternated between Belmont and Churchill Downs with some Pimlico, Woodbine, and Monmouth sprinkled in.

Overall, I thought Saturday’s cards around the country were pretty decent. As a general rule, lots of tracks have good cards on opening weekend, and then week two there’s a dip. I think racing secretaries tend to know what will fill and usually try to have those races go on the first week of the season. So I just always expect a little dip for week two, and so many tracks opened on Derby day this year.

Monmouth actually opened up on Saturday and had a pretty decent card. I love Monmouth and had the most fun there when I got to work upstairs there back in 2019. It’s just a great track and has some good racing. Lots of our connections from Tampa run there in the summer as well, and it seemed like opening weekend the Tampa shippers fared pretty well. One thing I always seem to get tricked by at Monmouth is that on both surfaces you’ll see horses on the rail who maybe look done but aren’t. They often fight back or just stay on, even when it looks like the outer flow has the momentum on the turn and into the lane. It happens at Tampa too, and it took me a good part of my first year to kind of stop giving big calls to the outside closers because the inside horses would just keep going.

We had two excellent apprentices down at Tampa this season in Gabriel Maldonado and Melissa Iorio, and I’m fascinated to see how they both do up at Monmouth. The Mid-Atlantic in the summer months there are obviously so many opportunities to race and ride, so I’m sure with the weight allowance they’ll both be hitting the freeways a bunch.

So Preakness week is now upon us, and I’m heading up to Baltimore on Wednesday. I’m very excited to attend my first Triple Crown event and will let you know how it all went next week in my columns. Thursday I’ll give you the winners for Saturday. (My Derby pick got beat a nose but also kind of tried to beat up the horse who ran third.) I’ve been to Pimlico, but it was a weekday and in the summer, so I’m sure this week will be a much different experience. 

It’s funny for big days when you’re announcing, once you get upstairs it’s a lot like a normal day, just noisier and more pages to do. But as an attendee, I think you actually can get a sense and feel for the day.

I’ve always loved the Preakness, and some of that is because the first one I really remember was one of the best ones. Sunday Silence and Easy Goer. I’ve watched that race a hundred times over the years, and it still makes the hair on my arm stand up.

One thing I like about the three legs of the Triple Crown is how different they all feel. The Derby feels unlike anything else in racing. The Preakness feels much more like what we’re used to as far as stakes racing. Field size is usually more moderate, but after all the pomp and circumstance in Kentucky it feels just a little more dialed down. The Belmont, to me, is all about the distance, but I'm sure on track it has its own feel as well.

Regardless, I’m excited Mystik Dan is running, and it should be a great week and a great race!