Thursday, May 07, 2009

Tampa Bay Downs End of Season Report

OLDSMAR, Fla. (May 7, 2009) On May 3, Tampa Bay Downs concluded its 83rd racing season, highlighted by five Tampa Bay Downs alumni participating in the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. Tampa Bay Derby winner Musket Man, who campaigned in the Tampa Bay Downs three-year-old stakes program, was the third place finisher in the Run for the Roses and looks to make his next start in May 16’s Preakness Stakes.

The prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby, the Sam F. Davis Stakes, became a graded event for the first time in its 29 year history; additionally, the purse was increased to $225,000 this year. The Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes was run on February 14, 2009, and its 11 horse field yielded three Kentucky Derby starters; among them was Sam F. Davis Stakes winner General Quarters, who captured the Grade I Bluegrass Stakes in April.

Racing Secretary Allison DeLuca said, “I believe that the series of races which led to the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby and the Grade III Florida Oaks accounted for quality racing at Tampa Bay Downs.” She continued, “Horsemen raced an average of 9.3 horses per race this year, consistent with last year’s 9.4 starters. Additionally, the stakes program of over $2.6 million divided among 26 races throughout the 94 day meet. Trainers and owners are drawn to the Oldsmar oval year after year for our outstanding winter turf racing and our progressive three-year-old stakes program,” concluded DeLuca.

Wagering at the Oldsmar oval was consistent with current downward wagering trends, and Tampa Bay Downs concluded a season with a 2.7% reduction on all-source handle. Vice President and General Manager of Tampa Bay Downs Peter Berube said, “Mirroring national trends, the overall handle at Tampa Bay Downs was down for the recently concluded meet. Additionally, the wagering decreased due to a variety of circumstances that includes 8 fewer total races plus the general softness of the national economy and that of Florida in particular. The state of Florida has had to deal with significant job losses and decreased migration into the state; Tampa in particular has suffered from 60,000 lost jobs in the first quarter of 2009. This is the second poorest statewide job performance in the country. The decrease in our all-source handle can also be attributed to the fact that our signal has not been available in the California market. In that light, I feel that Tampa Bay Downs has performed better than expected and overall I am satisfied with the final numbers.” (See attached for more details.)

Tampa Bay Downs was frequently ranked fourth in national betting throughout the winter months, and on Kentucky Derby Day was the fifth most wagered-on race track in the country, only behind Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, Hollywood Park and Arlington Park.

Attendance at Tampa Bay Downs also showed a slight decrease with an average of 3,236 fans enjoying the Oldsmar oval, attributed to both the distressed economy and the cooler winter the Tampa Bay area experienced.

Track Record Falls…. One new track record was posted at Tampa Bay Downs this season: Brooks Star raised the bar for the 6 ½ furlong main track distance by covering the ground in 1:16.09 on April 4, 2009.

NATIONAL PERFORMERS: Grade III $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby winner Musket Man went on to capture the Grade I Illinois Derby on his way to running third in the Grade I Kentucky Derby for owners Vic Carlson and Eric Fein, trainer Derek Ryan and jockey Eibar Coa. General Quarters, winner of the newly graded $225,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa, was victorious in the Grade I $750,000 Bluegrass Stakes and finished twelfth in the Kentucky Derby. Other graduates of the Oldsmar oval’s three-year-old stakes program to participate in the Kentucky Derby are Join in the Dance, Atomic Rain and Nowhere to Hide.


· Jockey Daniel Centeno, who has captured the Tampa Bay Downs jockey title for three years in a row, was named as top rider for the current season. The reinsman haltered 138 victories this year, just short of his record 144 wins during the 2007-2008 meet; this year, Centeno’s horses have earned nearly $2 million in purses. Centeno will take his tack to Monmouth Park over the summer, and plans to return to ride at Tampa when racing resumes here again in December.

This was Centeno’s fifth meet at Tampa. He debuted here five seasons ago with a tenth-place finish in the rider standings with 32 wins from only 276 mounts; three years ago Centeno finished second in the rider standings with 72 wins from 475 rides; two years ago, the reinsman has 125 wins from 538 starts and $1,667,752 in purses. Last year Centeno set the record for wins and purse earnings in a single season when he took 144 trips to the Winner’s Circle and his mounts earned $2,145,528. Daniel Centeno will spend the summer in the Monmouth Park riding colony.

· Owner Richard N. Averill was named as Tampa Bay Downs’s leading owner for the track’s 83rd meet. Averill, who was the leading owner here in the 2005-2006 season, set an owner’s record this year with 24 trips to the Winner’s Circle from 64 starts and earnings of over a quarter million dollars. Averill counts R Vicarious Girl, who captured 4 wins in 5 starts over the Tampa meet and is tied for the leading horse of the Tampa season, among his stable.

POKER: The Silks Poker Room enjoyed its second season of offering year-round poker in its facility in the third floor of the Grandstand. With the benefit of increased square footage, more tables, the all-new Silks Bar and Grille, a finish-line view as well as elevator access, the Silks Poker Room has become one of the premier poker destinations in the state of Florida.

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