Tampa Bay Downs has hired Jason Beem, who has called races at numerous thoroughbred tracks since 2006, as track announcer.
Beem will begin his duties at the Oldsmar, Fla., track on June 30 and July 1, for its annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing. He will resume in late November when it begins the main part of its 2021-2022 race meet.
He will succeed Richard Grunder, who retired on May 2 after 37 years and more than 37,000 races at Tampa Bay Downs.
Beem, who is 41, currently announces at Grants Pass Downs in Oregon and will begin his third season at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., on July 19.
Beem was chosen from among dozens of applicants after a nationwide search. He is excited to bring his enthusiastic style to Tampa Bay Downs
“From calling races at Colonial Downs and Monmouth Park (in 2019), I got to know a lot of the horses and horsemen who compete at Tampa," he said. "It really appeals to me as a fan. It’s good, quality racing, the turf races are outstanding and it’s a very horseplayer-friendly track.”
Margo Flynn, the Vice President of Marketing and Publicity at Tampa Bay Downs, believes Beem will be embraced by listeners accustomed to Grunder’s energetic, fan-friendly style, while attracting new followers through his social-media platforms.
Beem is host of an hour-long podcast each Monday through Friday – the Jason Beem Horse Racing Podcast sponsored by Twinspires – on which he interviews many of the sport’s leading figures.
In addition to his podcast, Beem is active on Twitter and Instagram and he has a YouTube channel.
“Jason hit all the checkpoints we were looking for,” Flynn said. “He sees racing through a fan’s eyes and understands the need to cultivate new fans and develop ways to target them. He has a big pair of shoes to fill, but he has the experience and love of the sport to make his own mark at Tampa Bay Downs."
Beem, who started his announcing career in 2006 at River Downs in Cincinnati (now Belterra Park), describes his race-calling style as high-energy and information-driven.
He said: “I have a quick delivery, I try to get as much information as I can to the horseplayer and I’m very descriptive. Accuracy, obviously, is the most paramount thing for me."
Beem knows it is a next-to-impossible task following Grunder, who is a jockey’s agent at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. In an almost-eerie coincidence, both called races at since-closed Portland Meadows in Oregon at similar stages of their careers, with Beem working there from 2006-2014.
“I don’t look at it as trying to replace him, because he is a legend,” Beem said. “I just want to be a great member of the Tampa Bay Downs team, get to know the horse-playing community and get a lot of people excited about horse racing.”