Thoroughbred racing makes a short but highly anticipated return to the Suncoast when Tampa Bay Downs plays host to its inaugural Summer Festival of Racing on Sunday and Monday.
Eight races are scheduled each day, with post time for the first race at 12:30 p.m. Racing will be conducted on the main dirt surface and the turf. Grandstand admission and parking are free. The first 1,300 patrons who donate $2 to TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc.) receive a free car visor; Tampa Bay Downs will match the donation amount up to $2,600. TROT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the safe retirement, rehabilitation and adoption of Tampa’s racing Thoroughbreds.
In addition to 16 exciting races, Tampa Bay Downs will stage a $5,000 Jockeys’ Challenge during the Summer Festival of Racing, based on a cumulative points system awarding 8 points for a victory, 7 for second place, etc., down to 1 point for eighth place. The top jockey at the conclusion of Monday’s card will earn $2,500, the runner-up will receive $1,500 and the third-place rider will collect $1,000.
For record-keeping purposes, Sunday’s program marks the official end of the 2012-13 meet and the Monday card will signal the official start of the 2013-14 meet – Tampa Bay Downs’ 88th season of live Thoroughbred racing – which is tentatively scheduled to resume in early December.
Wagering on the Sunday and Monday live cards is available only at Tampa Bay Downs, as the signal will not be transmitted for simulcasting. However, Tampa Bay Downs will continue to offer simulcast wagering from other tracks across North America both days.
Since the curtain was lowered on the current meet after the May 5 performance, Tom McLaughlin – the track’s Vice President of Facilities and Track Surfaces – and his dedicated crew have worked to ensure the main track is its usual fair and forgiving self and the emerald turf is lush and immaculate. With the infield lake shimmering in the sunlight and colorfully attired jockeys striving to excel aboard fast, talented racehorses, visitors are sure to be treated to a memorable two-day spectacle.