Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Oct. 23, 2023

October 23rd, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! Welcome to Breeders’ Crown week as harness takes center stage this coming weekend at Hoosier Park. Breeders’ Cup of course looms just after that on Nov. 3 and 4. I got assigned jury duty on Nov. 2, so I have to see if the judge views the Breeders’ Cup as a just reason to be dismissed. Fingers crossed!

There was a video this weekend going around of John Gosden on Nick Luck’s Sunday show over in Europe. Gosden was talking about the issue of breakdowns and injuries and the reality of them in our sport. It seems that over the last few years, we’ve had times in our game where those type of injuries have been centered in certain places and the debates will come up about synthetic surfaces, track safety, what can we do, etcetera. Those are all good and important conversations to come up and to be had. It’s incumbent on all of us in the game to push for our sport to be as safe as possible.

While I agreed with all of what Gosden said, I wanted to focus more in this column about how and where it was said. The delivery as much as the message. Whenever we have these crises periods in racing, it always feels as an insider that we do such a poor job of communicating both what we do for safety, but also the fact that racing will never be 100% safe. As Gosden says in that video, the only way for everything to be safe is to not let anyone out of the box. Which in my opinion is not even true. 

No matter what we’re talking about in life, there’s some degree of risk. As individuals, groups, and societies, we determine where the line is for risk tolerance and what we’re willing to deal with. The more we try to control and minimize risk, at a point, we actually begin creating more risk and potentially more distress. If we wanted no risk at all, we’d all just stay home and do nothing and interact with nobody. Risk is inherent, but of course, we have to do our best within our abilities to minimize it while keeping our industry going and hopefully someday growing.

The part I liked most about the piece was having it done in a very public and professional environment. I don’t know John Gosden beyond his name and the success he’s had running horses over here in the States. But in just over a minute in that video, I saw someone who demonstrated passion, knowledge, and reality about our great game. I’d be more than happy having him or people like him in more public forums discussing racing with outsiders because I think it would help us get our message across much better than whatever we’re doing now. I don’t know anything about crisis management but to me, having people who are smart and engaging out on the front lines will help us as we navigate the ever-changing landscape of media and society, in general.

I think racing more often than not tries to hide from its problems and hopes they will just kind of go away. Or, at least, the attention on them will go away. I’ve seen it time and time again within the industry as well as with individual tracks. It’s frustrating to watch and to me, conversations like this out in the public eye will help not only the public who’s not into racing, but those of us who are in it and invested in it. So thank you, John Gosden and Nick Luck, for that conversation and how you all handled it.

Everyone have a great week!