Tampa Bay Downs’s Vice President and General Manager Peter Berube said of the record-setting increases, “I am very pleased with the outcome of our season. Fans and horsemen alike enjoyed a relatively dry and warm winter here, which certainly helped us increase attendance and on-track handle. Overall, we credit our lower takeout, large fields, 18% more turf racing and greater access to the California market as key to our success as well as a larger simulcast following nationwide.”
Racing Secretary Allison De Luca said, “This season, we were pleased to see our average number of horses per race increase to 9.11, and to have the average purses paid out jump by over 5%. Horsemen continue to run here for our safe surfaces and strong stakes program, and it’s gratifying to get the kind of response we saw this season.”
De Luca continued, “I also was very pleased to see the dramatic increase in number of horses claimed this meet from last season. Over 50% more horses were claimed this season from last season, and the total cost of horses claimed was a 67% increase from last year. This speaks to the quality of horses going through the claiming ranks here as well as to the general confidence trainers and owners have about these horses’ potential for the future.”
Track Records Fall…. Two new track records were posted at Tampa Bay Downs this season: Sneaking Uponyou, ridden by Huber Villa-Gomez for owner/trainer Jamie Ness, raised the bar for the six furlong main track distance by covering the ground in 1:08.69 on April 9’s Hilton Garden Inn Sprint on Florida Cup Day. Also on Florida Cup Day, Manicero captured the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore Stakes in track record-setting fashion, travelling the seven panels over the main track in 1:22.13 for owner Leo Azpurua, Sr. and trainer Leo Azpurua, Jr. with Paco Lopez in the irons.