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Owners, trainers, jockeys and fans return to Tampa Bay Downs on June 30 and July 1 for the track’s second annual Summer Festival of Racing, featuring an approximate 25-percent increase in purses from last year’s inaugural two-day event.
Eight races will be run both days, with action on both the main dirt track and turf course (weather permitting). Each starter will receive at least $500 in purse money. Post time both days is 12:30 p.m. and there is free parking and grandstand admission, in addition to simulcast wagering on other tracks.
Tampa Bay Downs General Manager Peter Berube announced today that both day’s races will be simulcast to the track’s in-state and out-of-state wagering markets.
“We received an excellent response from our horsemen last summer on short notice for our first Summer Festival, and as the event continues to gain in popularity, we are excited to bring it to a wider audience and increase the size of the wagering pools,” Berube said.
“Raising purses by 25 percent from last year is another way to express our thanks for our horsemen’s continued participation,” Berube added. “Our hope is to establish the Summer Festival as an event that horsemen and fans look forward to every year.”
The Summer Festival of Racing, which was not simulcast in 2013, enables Tampa Bay Downs to fulfill the legislative requirements to be classified as a year-round, live-racing facility.
That status gives the track full control of its simulcast imports and resultant inter-track wagering revenue throughout the year. The additional income allowed Tampa Bay Downs to raise purses by 15 percent during the current 2013-14 meeting, including an all-time high benchmark of $24,000 for maiden special weight races.
The Summer Festival of Racing will again feature the $5,000 Jockeys’ Challenge, with the three top riders over both days earning bonuses of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000. The winners of the Jockeys’ Challenge will be determined using a cumulative points system awarding 8 points for a victory, 7 for second, etc.
Augusto Marin won last year’s top prize by riding four winners with two seconds, followed in the standings by Chris Landeros and Brian Halligan.
The Monday, June 30 card marks the 91st day and the official end of Tampa Bay Downs’ 2013-14 racing season, while the Tuesday, July 1 program kicks off Tampa Bay Downs’ 89th season of competition, which is expected to resume in late November and run through June 30, 2015.
The condition books for both days of racing are available at www.tampabaydowns.com. Any claimed horses will be eligible to race immediately for the new connections in any jurisdiction.
The track will take entries for both days of racing on Thursday, June 26. The barn area will open at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 29.

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