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Employee Spotlight

christina

Christina N.
Client Services Host


Employee since 2013

Why did you choose Tampa Bay Downs?
My dad has been coming here 20 years to play the horses, and he would always take me on Sunday after church. It looked like such a fun place to work, and after being a nightclub manager, I was looking for a daytime job. A family friend introduced me to Patrick Murphy (Director of Poker), and he recommended hiring me. I am honored and grateful they created a position just for me, and I love it here!

What surprised you about Tampa Bay Downs?
The camaraderie and the connection you have with everybody are wonderful. I've never worked anywhere else where the employees are so close and get along so well. They are like my second family.

Tell us a funny Tampa Bay Downs story.
I love Halloween, and I will use any excuse to dress up. The Silks Poker Room has a three-day Halloween tournament every year and some of the Silks' staff dresses up for it, so I jumped at the chance last year to wear a costume to work three days in a row. I dressed as a cougar one day, the Queen of Hearts the next and a sexy pirate. Our General Manager, Mr. Berube, is a pretty reserved man and not accustomed to employees wearing costumes - especially since The Silks staff mainly stayed in the poker room on the third floor. So when he saw me wearing a cougar costume in the middle of Legends Bar on the second floor taking pictures with a line of customers, all he could do was stop in his tracks and laugh.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I like concerts, spending Sundays at the pool and going out on my friend's boat. I also enjoy Fantasy Football. People underestimate the girl, but I do my homework and won my league last year!

What is your personal motto?
Treat people like you like to be treated, and don't take anything too seriously. It's OK to laugh and enjoy yourself. I've found that when I walk into a room and smile, it relaxes everybody.


dave1

Dave H.
Bartender


Employee since 1986

Why did you choose Tampa Bay Downs?
I love the racing atmosphere and the diversity of the customers. I have greatly enjoyed working for the track owners, Mr. and Mrs. Thayer, two of the nicest people you could ever work for.

What surprised you about Tampa Bay Downs?
From the beginning, I ran into so many employees who are loyal to Tampa Bay Downs and came back every year to work, even if their jobs were seasonal.

Tell us a funny Tampa Bay Downs story.
George Steinbrenner came into the VIP Room, asked me to get him a box of popcorn from the concession stand and handed me a $100 bill. When I came back with his popcorn and $99, he said 'Keep the change.' Being a new employee I thought WOW - how long has this been going on? After a few races, I asked him if he wanted more popcorn. He said 'You're worse than a #%&#^ car salesman,' and we both laughed.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
Watching my daughter play travel softball, high school softball and college softball. I also enjoy a good Rays and Bucs game and sports in general.

What is your personal motto?
Trust in yourself before anyone else!



photo

PJ G.
Poker Dealer


Employee since 2005

Why did you choose Tampa Bay Downs?
I had been a dealer for more than 10 years and worked the World Series of Poker at Rio in Las Vegas, and I could see Tampa Bay Downs was going to be one of the up-and-coming places to play. The energy in here during the Thoroughbred racing season is amazing. It's electric.

What surprised you about Tampa Bay Downs?
That there is hardly any employee turnover, which means I'm not the only happy person working here. The management has an open-door policy, and their loyalty to the employees and our loyalty to them go hand-in-hand.

Tell us a funny Tampa Bay Downs story.
I'll be ready to say hello to some of our customers I run into at the supermarket, but they'll give me a look because they don't want their spouse to know they're here that often. I don't want to ignore anyone, but sometimes I end up walking on tippy-toes!

What do you enjoy outside of work?
My husband Joe is also a poker dealer here, and we both enjoy gambling and the thrill of winning. I also love the Bucs and football in general. Give me pizza, beer and football and I'm happy!

What is your personal motto?
Kill people with kindness. People don't want negativity in their lives. I treat people how they want to be treated.


clinton

Clinton T.
Electrician


Employee since 2012

Why did you choose Tampa Bay Downs?
I'm a state-certified electrician, and I had worked for a company that installed the Trakus system here at the racetrack. An opportunity opened for someone with my skills and experience, it offered a steady income and the atmosphere here is very laid-back and welcoming.

What surprised you about Tampa Bay Downs?
How friendly and generous everyone is, in every department. My first day on the job, a couple of women in the accounting department shook my hand and wished me luck. I used to work for a family business, and my co-workers here are like my second family.

Tell us a funny Tampa Bay Downs story.
It had been raining heavily and I got my work van stuck between a couple of barns on the backside after everyone else had peeled off for the day. Fortunately, I was able to call one of my co-workers to come push me out with a cart (yes, he also was amused!).

What do you enjoy outside of work?
Spending time with my wife and our three kids and having fun. We have a 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. I also like fishing for bass and bluegill and watching the Tampa Bay Rays and the Buccaneers.

What is your personal motto?
'Get 'er done.' Time is of the essence working at the track. As soon as we finish one job, there are three more waiting.


nerissa

Nerissa S.
Staff Accountant


Employee since 2005

Why did you choose Tampa Bay Downs?
I had worked at another racetrack in Michigan, and horsemen who came here every winter said it was a friendly, welcoming place. When I came for my interview in October, I left light snow flurries, and when I got off the plane I thought 'I hope I get this job!' I feel I've been blessed working here.

What surprised you about Tampa Bay Downs?
There are so many people who have worked here for many years. Usually you have a few veterans where you work, but there are a lot of employees who have been here at least 10 years. I thought that was pretty impressive.

Tell us a funny Tampa Bay Downs story.
We see a lot of people who are new to racing, and one woman was in the paddock watching the identifier check a horse's lip tattoo. She said 'This is the best track ever - they check all the horses' teeth!' I thought that was so cute.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I'm a member of a book club, so I like to read, and I enjoy movies. Other than that, nothing too exciting.

What is your personal motto?
I have a quote above my desk that says 'Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet.' In life, you have to work for what you want.


mikey

Mike H.
Publicity Assistant

Employee since 2011

Why did you choose Tampa Bay Downs?
I had covered the racetrack as a sportswriter since 1986, and the opportunity to get even closer to the action inspired me. I have always been uplifted by the majesty and courage of Thoroughbreds and their riders.

What surprised you about Tampa Bay Downs?
The loyalty of the patrons and their preference for Tampa Bay Downs over bigger tracks. So many fans have been coming here for decades - many have raced horses here - and they plan their schedules around the racing calendar.

Tell us a funny Tampa Bay Downs story.
On my first day interviewing a trainer on the backside for the Tampa Tribune, I discovered I was allergic to horses! Luckily, I developed an immunity after a couple of weeks sniffing around the barns.

What do you enjoy outside of work?
I'm a huge fan of the area theater scene and have gotten to know many of the performers. It's a thrill when they move on to something really big. I also enjoy movies, reading, Notre Dame football and blueberry pie.

What is your personal motto?
Don't judge a man (or woman) until you've walked a mile in their moccasins. You never know what kind of a day someone is having, but you can always try your best to help them improve upon it.



denise

Denise S.
Special Events Representative


Employee since 2010

Why did you choose Tampa Bay Downs?
I have always been around horses. I trained, rode and showed horses. I loved my speed events for sure, but even though the Quarter Horse has my heart, when I heard of the position to work at the track, I jumped for it. The beautiful Thoroughbred has stolen my love for the fast pace. I'm very blessed to be here working with the wonderful staff - it's like a huge family.

What surprised you about Tampa Bay Downs?
I never knew how many people really loved the race horses.

Tell us a funny Tampa Bay Downs story.
I've heard that when I am not at work, our regular patrons ask 'Where is Sunshine?' or 'Where is Smiles?' That warms my heart. But then they yell at me the next time I see them for not being here for them!

What do you enjoy outside of work?
My family and friends, all the parties we have and, of course, the beach. I love my water and sunshine.

What is your personal motto?
Be a blessing to another and be happy doing it.


If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1.800.GAMBLER (1.800.426.2537).