Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Oct. 17, 2022

October 17th, 2022

A good Monday morning to you all! Writing once again from the San Francisco Bay Area, as I’m back here for the second time in the last month. I stopped by Golden Gate Fields on Saturday to watch the races via simulcast as Northern California racing was still down at the Big Fresno Fair. However, I believe the circuit does return to Golden Gate Fields this coming weekend.

I’m starting my cross-country journey back to Florida as we inch closer to the Tampa Bay Downs meeting starting back up. Instead of my normal go as far and fast as I can method across the country, I’m going to be taking it a little slower this time. Spending a few days here in the Bay Area before heading to Las Vegas for a bit and then across the plains and midwest before heading south. I think I’m going to stop through at Mobile, Alabama for a night before finally getting to the Tampa Bay area.

So, normally, the theme of these Monday columns is “something I liked from the weekend.” And there are a few options both on the racetrack and off. I can tell you one thing that I didn’t like was my Seattle Mariners getting swept out of the playoffs by the Astros. I’m a pretty casual sports fan and follow most sports, but not too intensely. After horse racing, for me it’s hockey and baseball and then a long way back to football and basketball as far as time and emotion invested.

But let me tell you, losing Game 1 in the fashion the Mariners did was an absolute gut punch. My stomach had that dull, sad feeling the rest of the day. To be honest, it was kind of refreshing to care that much about a sporting event again.

When I was a kid, I lived and died with the Mariners, especially their Cinderella 1995 season. They’ve been so bad for so long since 2001 that it was just exciting to see them play well. Plus, they had such a fun team to watch this year.

But back to horses running around an oval. One of my favorite things about announcing races is watching the horses I’ve gotten to call go on and do great things. So many of the runners who competed at Tampa Bay Downs this past season have been going on to great success. Classic Causeway, Bleecker Street, Nest, In Italian, and Cody’s Wish all competed down there and have all subsequently won Grade 1 stakes this calendar year, which is pretty bananas to think about.

Well, this weekend another Tampa Bay Downs alumni added their name to the list as Gina Romantica bested her rivals in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

Gina Romantica actually debuted on the main track at Tampa Bay Downs back on March 12 of this year, which was Tampa Bay Derby Day. I went back and watched the replay tonight as I’m writing this and while she was impressive, I don’t know that there’s any way to tell she was going to be a Grade 1 winner.

Certainly she hails from multiple Grade 1-winning connections and was bred to be good. I’ve had the good fortune to call some really good horses, and it is fascinating from the announcers booth how sometimes you can really tell when you just saw a good one.

I think if you go back and look at a lot of horses' debuts or early performances, you’ll hear in the racecaller's voice or words something to indicate this horse might be good. This scenario always makes me think of Vic Stauffer’s call of Zenyatta’s second career race. Like, sure she was good, but he knew by watching her how good she was to use the line “here’s a future superstar — Zenyatta.” He was right!

It’s a cool thing to see horses go on to big successes, especially after they’ve made a stop by your local track or a track you work. So three cheers for Gina Romantica and her Grade 1 win!