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Monday, Jan. 5, 2015


Announcer to call races at Louisiana Downs

A fresh voice is coming to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. 

Jason Beem will bring his announcing skills to Louisiana Downs from Portland Meadows Racetrack in Portland, Ore., where he spent the past nine years announcing. 

Trent McIntosh, director of operations for Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, is confident Beem is the right choice for the job. 

“During the process of interviewing applicants, watching tape of their race calls and interviews, it quickly became apparent that Jason has a passion for horseracing,” McIntosh said. “That passion can be heard in each race call. Beem also has an understanding of the racing customer and the business, and he has shown the ability to build relationships with the horseracing community and local media. We are truly excited to be able to hire an announcer at Louisiana Downs with the experience, knowledge and passion for the sport that Jason brings.” 

Beem will start calling races during the upcoming quarter horse meet starting this month.

Beem is a native of Renton, Wash., where he was introduced to horseracing at an early age. “I fell in love with horseracing as a tiny kid,” Beem said. “I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and my dad started taking me to the track in Seattle when I was just a kid. And I still can hear the voice of Gary Henson, who was the announcer at Longacres back then, each time I watch a horse race. I was so enamored with his voice and his race calls. I would always impersonate him, even when I was like 5 years old.” 

The interest in horserace announcing continued as Beem grew older. “I started working in horseracing in 2004 at Emerald Downs in Seattle as a media assistant,” Beem said. “I started practicing announcing then and would spend time on the roof at Emerald practicing and at Portland in the wintertime. The announcer at Portland was sick one day, and I got to fill in and was hired shortly after that at River Downs in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shortly after that, I was hired at Portland Meadows, where I’ve announced the last nine seasons.” 

In addition to his education on the racetrack, Beem graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in sociology and English. It could also be said Beem wrote the book on the subject of horseracing; his first book, a novel about horseracing and the complexities of the betting structure, was recently published. “My book ‘Southbound’ was published back in March, and it’s been a really neat experience having it out in the world,” Beem said. “It deals with gambling addiction and horseracing and follows a recovering compulsive gambler who relapses with betting on a trip down to California.” Beem is at work on a second novel. 

Announcing and writing are not the only ways Beem has demonstrated his devotion to horseracing; he has also found time to host a radio show on his favorite subject. “I’ve hosted ‘The Winning Ticket’ here on the airwaves in Portland since 2008,” Beem said. “It’s been a very cool experience to learn how to host a radio show and to try and make it as entertaining as possible. I’ve been asked to fill in a few times during the week on various sports radio shows, and it’s a tough job. Tons of preparation go into a three-hour show.”

Though Beem has yet to visit Louisiana, he is eager to learn more about his new home. “I’m excited for a new town and to get to meet new people at Louisiana Downs,” Beem said. “It’s a track that has a great reputation for having very competitive racing with quality horses and horsemen, so the chance to call such good horses is something I’m really looking forward to. Also, I’m excited to try my first crawfish!

“I love that announcing a craft that I get to work on each day,” Beem said. “It’s so fun to get to be creative and have fun at work.  I get to communicate with people each day about a sport I love, and that really is a blessing.”

Quarter horse racing begins Jan. 10 and runs through March. Racing is scheduled Saturday through Tuesday with a 1 p.m. first post time daily. Beem will call both quarter horse and thoroughbred racing. For more information, check out the website www.harrahslouisianadowns.com.


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