Monday morning message with Jason Beem, November 21, 2022

Happy Monday morning everyone! Thanksgiving week is here and it’s sort of a fun week from a racing perspective. Every day it feels like something exciting is happening in the racing world.

Mahoning Valley hosts its premier race of the season, the $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint. Tuesday is Zia Park Derby Day down in New Mexico. Wednesday is opening day at Tampa Bay Downs, which is obviously my favorite of the week! Thursday we have great holiday races, Friday is the Clark Stakes and there is good weekend racing. So it should be a great week of coast-to-coast racing action.

I would like to mention today the passing of longtime handicapper and lawn author Dave Litfin, who passed away last week at the age of 64. I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting Dave several times over the last few years, most recently last winter at Gulfstream Park where he charted for Equibase. He has always been very friendly and I had the great pleasure of having him on my show in April 2020 to talk about his life and career in racing.

The media landscape in horse racing has obviously changed a lot in the last decade or two. Social media has made it so that stories are reported fairly instantly and the news goes through quickly. Writers who used to write long stories about complex issues and numbers within the industry now generally only post a tweet or maybe a short story. We’re consuming more and more media, just in smaller, more bite-sized amounts. Hell, even these columns probably only take the average reader a minute or two.

With the passing of Dave last week and my friend Victor “the Predictor” Cozzetti a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about the old guard of lawn scribblers lately. Back then, when I bought a printed copy of past performances, I always read all the stories on the front page of the newspaper. Then I would read the handicapper’s mind and finally dive into the map. But every circuit had their guy or girl I would look forward to reading their coverage of these races.

Well I’d say it’s usually a mix of track handicappers and regular players who follow a lot of circuits. Many of the track handicappers have multiple tracks that they work on or do analysis for, so it seems like the track specialist has a somewhat lost position. Now before you start tweeting me examples of people doing just that, I know they still exist. I suppose I’m just missing the names and faces that were ubiquitous at a particular circuit when I showed up.

I still think long form work has a place in racing and in society. Podcasts are still very popular and there are some very good ones in racing I think. People like Joe Nevills and Natalie Voss have done some really great stuff over the years. However, I don’t think rapid-fire reporting and Twitter journalism are going away anywhere anytime soon.

And I’m glad that’s not the case, simply because it’s quite amazing to get information out so quickly. And for those of us who like to dive into a long story, we just have to enjoy these things as they come out.

People’s stories are so much more than just a tweet or a soundbite in this sport. One of the great privileges of a podcast has been hearing and sharing people’s stories of how they got into racing, what they love and what they dream of in the game.

I hope everyone is having a good week!