Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem Oct. 9, 2023

October 9th, 2023

A good Monday morning to you all! And welcome to state-bred season! It seems like the time between these final rounds of preps and the Breeders’ Cup is always filled with lots of state-bred days at various tracks. Makes sense, though; give them a time to shine while the top horses are all putting in their final works for the big two days at Santa Anita.

Horse racing is a game of opinions, and the beauty of it is that we get to back up our opinions and be rewarded when we’re right and penalized when we’re wrong. Easily my best opinion of the weekend was liking Gina Romantica in the First Lady (G1) coming off of her good effort in the Beverly D. I was feeling pretty high on myself after that 11-1 winner, only to be quickly humbled by Up to the Mark, who I figured in no way was going to be ready to fire what he did in the Coolmore Turf Mile (G1). Getting to see Master of The Seas at Woodbine a few weeks ago and knowing that Up to the Mark was coming off a layoff and likely just trying to tighten the screws before the Breeders’ Cup, I figured Up to the Mark was a pure go-against. Then again, I suppose trainers don’t often tighten the screws in a $1 million race.

After the race, a couple of friends and colleagues were debating Up to the Mark in regards to recent turf males. One of the gentlemen was quick to praise Up to the Mark as one of the recent greats on grass. His three straight Grade 1 wins certainly give him some resume to go with the claim. Another chimed in saying Bricks and Mortar would trounce Up to the Mark, and that it wouldn’t be close. I didn’t pay much attention to the debate because frankly, I don’t care at all. What did pique my interest is why people in sports and racing seem to enjoy debates that can’t have a resolution.

I see it in sports media all the time and to me, it’s just the worst form of debate. MJ or LeBron? Tiger or Jack? Skid Row or Def Leppard? OK, maybe not the last one. But people really do seem to love to have these debates that will never be proven on the field of play. The only thing I can come up with is that it’s the safest form of debate because you know there won’t be any resolution. So you can puff your chest and boast, and really nothing will ever come along to prove you wrong. And for the most part, nobody would remember the topic or someone’s take on it if it somehow was able to be resolved at a later date.

To me, my favorite part about horse racing is looking ahead. Even recapping the races from this weekend, yes we want to celebrate the winners and talk about the good scores people might have made. But we’re also immediately moving into how will these races and efforts lead to potential bigger wins down the road? And those debates we will likely get an answer to.

I think one of the beauties of racing is you get to learn to be OK with being wrong. Well I should say, you have the opportunity to learn from being wrong if you accept it. I’m always shocked how many people on social media speak from such places of authority on almost every subject as though they haven’t even considered the fact that they might be wrong or ill-informed. They just know what they see and feel and assume it must be right. 

I wrote a bit about that with myself in my column last Thursday about beginner’s mind. I’m wrong all the time about so many subjects. I think I’m of an average intelligence and I'm an informed person, and I’m constantly wrong. And I think horse racing helped me learn to admit that but also to use that awareness to try to at least get a little better at various aspects of it.

So here’s to debate, being wrong, and settling arguments on the track! Good luck this week, everyone!