Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem May 22, 2023

May 22nd, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! I often say on my podcast that big days in racing tend to either leave me feeling amazing about the game or kind of down on it. Saturday’s Preakness card was more of the latter than the former, unfortunately. However, this column is supposed to be about something I like that happened over the weekend. And there were quite a few things I did enjoy over the weekend, so let me go through those.

Watching the Randy Morse trainee Taxed cruise to a big victory in the Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) was certainly a highlight. I always find myself rooting for the smaller barns in racing since the top 5 or 10 barns seem to dominate so much of the stakes-racing landscape. Randy runs out of Churchill Downs this time of year, and I have some friends who have horses with him. They were obviously ecstatic for their guy. This was Randy’s first graded stakes win since the 2014 Stephen Foster (now a Grade 2) at Churchill with Moonshine Mullin, which I believe was his lone Grade 1 win.

He talked after the race about how hard it is for the smaller barns to compete against million-dollar horses in the top barns. I really think it’s important to see smaller barns win and get more opportunities with better horses instead of keeping all the best runners in the hands of so few. So good on you, Randy!

Straight No Chaser was simply sensational in the Maryland Sprint (G3) for trainer Dan Blacker and jockey John Velazquez. It obviously wasn’t Johnny V’s biggest winner of the day, as he won his first Preakness later on with National Treasure, but this was certainly a memorable and dominant score. That’s two straight very nice wins for Straight No Chaser, and one has to think that another try at the top level of sprinting is on the horizon for him sometime soon.

One of my favorite things about watching racing from Pimlico is that you can see on the television feed just how much of a neighborhood track it is. You see the houses in a row as they run down the backstretch and to me, that adds such a cool perspective to the races. That was one of my favorite parts about visiting Fair Grounds this past winter was getting to see how there are people who literally live 20 feet across the street from the gates of the track. I’ve gotten to visit Pimlico twice now and while I know there are discussions of an impending facelift, and I’m sure it’s very much needed in some spots, I found the experience rather fun and charming.

Last thing I really enjoyed from the weekend was getting to hear Dave Rodman call on the big stage. Every year at this time on Twitter, I see tweets talking about how good he is and how “underrated” he is. Underrated is subjective, but I can tell you amongst myself and many other racecallers and fans, he’s right up there near the top of the list. We had him on the show the other week, and his stories are worth a listen if you go back to that episode.

Hope everyone has a good week and made some good scores at the windows!