Beemie Award for Should have won an Eclipse goes to @_zoemetz

In the past, the Beemies have been accused of trying to undermine The Eclipse Awards.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  I respect that those are the awards of our industry and that this is essentially just a goofy comedy show.  But, this year there was a photo I thought was such a moving piece of photography, I was sure it would win an Eclipse.  And it didn’t.  I don’t even remember now what beat it, but Zoe Metz’s shot of Michael McCarthy and his daughter saying their goodbyes to City of Light was just so so good.  Emotion, love of the horse, A father comforting a daughter, the horse of a lifetime, the ever-present watchful eye of the caretaker, and everyone saying goodbye.  It just had it all.

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Even Ray Paulick loved it, and we know Ray hates everything (Just kidding Ray 🙂

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So Zoe, I can’t give you an Eclipse Award, but we can give you a Beemie! Great photo!

 

Beemie Award for Strangest Insult goes to @Horseracing4beg

There was no shortage of opinions after the Kentucky Derby disqualification.  Many folks had the opinion it was a warranted DQ, many thought it was a bad call.  @Horseracing4beg had a strong opinion about the DQ as many did.

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The people who huh?  Now I’ve been on the planet for a while, and I’ve always gone about my business in a certain way.  But after reading this statement I was forced to examine.  Had I been doing this basic human function wrong all these years?  However I was a little relieved when I saw Chris’ response to the tweet.

 

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So of course this sparked a debate amongst standers and sitters.  According to the folks at Mens Health, just over 1/3 of people are standers.   But regardless of whether you sit or stand, regardless of whether you supported the DQ or not, that insult snags a Beemie Award for Strangest Insult!! Congrats!

The Beemie Award for the Julian Muscat Mistaken Identity Award goes to @GaryStevens

I think most of our Beemie fans know the story of Julian Muscat.  But for a refresher, read about him here:

https://jasonbeem.com/2015/12/05/beemie-award-for-top-jockey-julian-muscat/

Julian has arguably become the breakout Beemie Awards star of all time, and he always plays along well with his random racing celebrity during this week.  But since Julian became the all time greatest case of racing Mistaken Identity, we’ve named an award after him.

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I love mistaken identity when it happens on twitter.  Some person is just going about their day when all of a sudden they get tagged and have a bunch of tweets directed at someone whose name they share.  Which brings us to @garystevens.  Ray Paulick was discussing Santa Anita and someone nominated 4 people to lead a governing body to help get SA out of the situation they were in.  One of the people tagged was @garystevens, but turns out that’s not THE racing Gary Stevens.

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Everyone had a nice laugh at the miscue, but then, our boy Julian shows up!!

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I just always get a good kick out of mistaken identity stuff and even though this one didn’t feature any mean or crazy tweets, just a fun little moment of the year.  So congrats Gary Stevens on winning the Julian Muscat Mistaken Identity Award!

Beemie Award for Best Horseplayer Moment goes to @Raps7

If you’ve been a bettor for any period of time, you’ve likely seen some hilarious stuff.  Losing a winning ticket can send any of us scurrying around the OTB or track trying to find that winning piece of white paper.  I’d say most of us have probably accidentally tossed a winner or two over the years.   In fact earlier this year some horseplayers were talking about just this topic.

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But after seeing their story, @Raps7 jumped in with a classic story of horseplayer ingenuity to rescue a lost ticket.

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WENT BACK TO THE TRACK AND TOOK THE GARBAGE BAG HOME!!  “All Time Move” is absolutely right.  Just hysterical, and it gets @Raps7 the Beemie Award for Best Horseplayer Moment of the Year! Congrats Johnny!

Beemie Award for Someone Missed the Joke Award goes to @AmateurCapper

Generally this category goes to someone who takes a tweet of @shamiamnot or @derbydannyk seriously.  This year it might even technically be a reply to a joke, but it made me laugh so here we are.  Turfway’s signature race, formerly the Spiral Stakes (also formerly like 8 other names), is now the Jeff Ruby Steaks.  Jeff Ruby for those who don’t know is a steakhouse owner based in nearby Cincinnati.  So instead of the Jeff Ruby Stakes, it’s the Jeff Ruby Steaks.  Get it?  Well @Amateurcapper didn’t get it when they replied to TVG to correct their post, and in doing so, earned themselves a Beemie Award!

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Jason Beem to host 2020 Beemie Awards on 1/17/20.

The Beemie Awards Foundation announced Thursday morning that fill-in track announcer Jason Beem will be taking the mic for 6th consecutive year to host this year’s Beemie Awards on Friday January 17, 2020.  The announcement comes after an exhaustive search and just over a week to the event.

“We had really hoped to get Nick Luck since he hosts everything else,” said Billy Koch of Little Red Feather Racing, who will once again sponsor the event.  “But Nick couldn’t do it, so we decided to just have Jason do it again.”

Beem, 39, hosts the 17th highest-rated horse racing podcast in the United States, the Jason Beem Horse Racing Podcast which is sponsored by the fine folks at Twinspires.  Seriously great people, go sign up there and tell them Beemie sent you.  He’s also called races at Monmouth Park (no big deal), Colonial Downs, Gulfstream Park*, Portland Meadows (RIP), and River Downs.

“I’m really excited to once again be hosting the Beemie Awards,” said Beem.  “From our humble beginnings in 2014, we’ve grown from a small internet show that pokes fun at racing twitter and makes cheesy videos, to a small internet show that pokes fun at racing twitter and makes cheesy videos with actual sponsors.”

Back this year are the popular Humblebrag Award, Best Mic Drop Award, Someone Missed the Joke Award, as well as Best Photo to Photoshop.  New this year is the Horseplayer Moment of the Year,  Best Insult, and the “Sorry you got Leckie’d” Award.

The event will take place on Friday January 17, 2020 by following Jason Beem’s twitter account @BeemieAwards.  Follow along the hashtag #BeemieAwards to watch on-demand and join in the conversation.

The Red Carpet begins at 8:30pm EST and the show starts at 9:00pm EST.  The show will be done by 10:45pm EST or as close as we can get.  Little Red Feather Racing Club are the title sponsors, and additional sponsorship also comes from SIMHorseracing.com, a virtual horse racing site.

For media inquiries email: jasoncharlesbeem@gmail.com

*Gulfstream Park West

Locks on the Doors; Portland Meadows is closing.

Locks on the Doors; Portland Meadows is closing.

“You think they’ll run here next year?”

Just past the finish line. The toteboard is still there, and to it’s right, the old Portland Meadows Golf Clubhouse. There was a 9 hole course in the infield for years.

From the time I started working at Portland Meadows in 2006, every Summer that familiar question came up hundreds of times.  “You think they’ll run here next year?”  My answer was usually the same to everyone.  “I think so.  I hope so.”

Dr. Jack Root who has been a long time owner/breeder/trainer/veterinarian in Oregon told me once “Jason, I’ve been coming here for thirty years, and every year I hear from countless people that Portland Meadows is closing.  It’s been closing for thirty years!”  But then Dr. Root followed that statement up with another.  “What will happen is some day, I think several years from now, we’ll show up one day, and there will be locks on the doors.  That’s when we’ll know it’s finally closed.”

Well for me, this past Sunday, when I walked up to the front doors and saw the locks, Dr. Root’s prognostication finally hit home.  I only stayed there for maybe thirty minutes or so on Sunday.  Walked around and saw the grass growing over the main track.  The inner rail torn down in places.  The lights removed from the toteboard.  The old golf course clubhouse empty.

PM from out front. The neon horse was still running, but the front doors are now locked.

I talked with one of the security guards who I’d known from my time at Portland Meadows.  He said the day before was the last day of simulcasting.  This coming Saturday would be the last day of poker.  Then January 1, the new owners, a logistics company of some kind, would take over ownership.  They’ll turn the property into some kind of trucking/shipping facility, the grandstand will go down, and life in North Portland will go on.  I’ve seen it in other places.  Where my beloved Longacres once stood there is now a Boeing building and a bunch of walking trails.  Where Playfair in Spokane once ran races there is now a business park.  Yakima Meadows is still standing but it looks condemned and I believe is only used to house motorcycle races.

Portland Meadows opened on September 14, 1946 and was the first North American Thoroughbred track to offer night racing according to the track about page on the website.  The track survived a flood in 1948, a fire in 1970, and several different ownership groups.  Gary Stevens career took off there and in 1982-83 he won 126 races before heading down to Southern California and creating a Hall of Fame career.  Bill Shoemaker won the Portland Mile in 1989.  There were other great things that happened on the track, but those things are all just PM’s biography.

To me it will always be about the people.  I used to love to walk the backstretch and talk with wonderful trainers like my friend Ben Root.  Folks like Dr. Ryland Harwood who was a career dentist and became a trainer, owner, and breeder in his retirement.  Small barns like Bubba Bullene, and GD Khalsa, who despite never having a huge stables, are fabulous horsemen.  Jockeys like Joe Crispin, and Mark Anderson, Javier Matias and Juan Gutierrez.  Portland always had many female riders as part of the colony.  Kathy Mayo won several titles there.  Shawna Barber, Becky Abernathy, April Boag, Connie Doll, Debbie Hoonan, Marijo Terleski, Shawna Whiteside, Darlene Braden, Anne Sanguinetti, and in recent years Kassie Guglielmino and Eliska Kubinova.

Whatever track I go to I always make sure to make friends with the jockey agents.  They always have the best stories and usually have some useful information.  Steve Peery was an agent there for years and became one of my best friends.  Keith Drebin was always fun to talk with.  I remember at the first Portland Meadows Golf Tournament I played in, Mike Delnick was the leading agent and was in our group.  I muttered at the first hole “Well I hope we can win today guys.”  Delnick looked at me and said “Don’t worry, I’m keeping score.  We’re gonna win.”  I laughed and then he said “Jason, the most dangerous wood in my bag isn’t my driver.  It’s my pencil.”   We won the tournament by a stroke.

I also used to love to hang out with the tote room guys.  Brothers Lucas and Ben.  One racing night they were having a contest who could fit the most grapes in their mouth.  So I participated and stuffed like 10 of those buggers in my yapper before eating them.  After I finished them I ran upstairs to call the next race.  As the horses reached the gate I could feel the acid from the grapes bubbling up in my stomach.  I reached down and hit the mute button and let out a big burp.  Then I heard my burp echo over the loud speakers.  I looked down to my mic pack and saw the light was still green.  The TV department even made a video of it which you can see HERE.  It’s pretty gross, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I know the racing wasn’t world class or much class at all.  But it was our track.  I called those races like they were the most important races in the country because I knew to the owners, trainers, jockeys, and gamblers, they were important.  I always felt a sense of pride that when an owner would watch the DVD of their horse winning a race, even years from now, that it was going to be me who got to describe the victory and call their horse.  What a privilege.

When I left Portland Meadows in late 2014 to pursue another announcing opportunity, I remember being very sad about it.  Even though I was taking the next step in my career (which I would of course completely blow), I didn’t like leaving.  I remember tearing up saying goodbye to Jerry and Vestal in the main office.  Shaking hands with Will who was my boss and is now my friend.  I get emotional thinking about Will because he always supported me even though my professional time at Portland Meadows was the height of my personal life mental health struggles.  One year my panic and agoraphobia got so bad that I would get crippling anxiety if I had to be far away from my car or medical help.  So Will set up a huge TV and a microphone in the downstairs office so I could call off the TV and be close to the parking lot and the nurses station.  I eventually made it back upstairs, but I told him countless times if he needed to fire me I would understand.  I look back at those times and feel bad that it was such a struggle.  But I also now have such an incredible appreciation for a boss who didn’t give up on me and ALWAYS had my back.

That’s why seeing Portland Meadows close up hurts so bad.  I haven’t gotten a paycheck from there in 5 years.  But I still am friends with many people from there.  I still have memories of that tiny booth.  The view of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens from that booth.  The good times and the horrible times.  So many of both were had on that plot of land at 1001 Schmeer Road.

The two tracks most dear to my heart have shuttered.  I love horse racing and hope to be involved with it in some way until my final furlong.  Just gotta keep working to make sure it can keep going, and god forbid, maybe thrive again.  I urge everyone who loves the game and might particularly love a certain track.  Treasure the times there.  Take photos.  Take videos.  Make memories.  When and if the doors get locked at your track, the photos, videos, and memories will be what you have to take with you.

 

A tour I did of Portland Meadows in 2011 can be seen HERE .  My youtube page there has several videos from PM as well.