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On Wednesday, Dec. 4, Tampa Bay Downs will be resuming its 2013-14 meeting, which officially began July 1. Tampa Bay Downs general manager Peter Berube has announced a 15-percent purse increase for horsemen this year thanks to additional simulcast revenue, with maiden special weight races offering $24,000 (which includes $4,000 in FOA funds).
The track’s stakes program will feature 25 added-money events worth a record total of almost $2.7-million. The track’s annual Festival Day, highlighted by the 34th renewal of the Grade II, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby for 3-year-olds, is Saturday, March 8.
“The growth of our stakes program has been well-documented and is a vital component of our expanding national profile,” Berube said. “But we need to continue to find ways to increase our overnight purses to keep improving our daily quality of racing.”
The Summer Festival of Racing, initiated on June 30 and July 1, qualified Tampa Bay Downs under Florida law as a year-round, live-racing facility, giving the Oldsmar facility full control of its simulcast races which is essential to allowing Tampa Bay Downs to continue to pay competitive purses.
As a year-round hub, Tampa Bay Downs, now in its 88th year of racing, has the ability to raise its purses through additional simulcast revenue – enhancing the prospects of retaining the high-quality stables that have made it the fourth most popular winter-spring signal nationwide over the past several years.
Berube says the Summer Festival of Racing is here to stay. “This is money for our horsemen, many of whom have supported our program for years and benefited from our growth since the addition of the turf course in 1998. It also helps us level the playing field with Gulfstream and Calder, which have purse money coming from slot machines.”
For the first time, both south Florida Thoroughbred tracks will be racing during the entirety of the Tampa Bay Downs meeting, increasing the competition for better horses. That affirms that change is a constant in racing, and tracks must stay at the forefront of industry trends to continue to provide customers with the best possible product – which leads to increased handle and even bigger purses.
The traditional winter-spring seasonal schedule runs through Sunday, May 4 (the day after the 140th Kentucky Derby), with the year-round race schedule officially wrapping up Monday, June 30 – which is also the first day of the second annual Summer Festival of Racing.
Stall applications are available on-line at www.tampabaydowns.com or by calling 813-855-4401 and are due on Sept. 30, 2013.

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