Tampa Bay Downs reports handful and purse gains
Tampa Bay Downs recorded significant gains in most major categories in the 2021-2022 season compared to the 2018-2019 competition (pre-pandemic), including all-source average daily bet handle and total purse amount paid to the riders.
Although the increases weren’t as dazzling when lined up for 2020-21, track VP and GM Peter Berube finds cause for encouragement as the Oldsmar Oval strengthens its position as one of the country’s most popular winters. Thoroughbred simulcast signals.
“Our Thoroughbred racing product has been very well received, both by fans in the Tampa Bay area and the nationwide simulcast market,” said Berube, who attributed the increases largely to the continuous improvement in the quality of the races and the attractiveness of the grass programme.
“The Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby card (March 12) generated nearly $21 million in wagers, representing a 36% increase from the previous record of $15.2 million set last year and was the best of any racetrack in the country that day.”
Assessing the success of the encounter, Berube compared the final numbers to both the 2020-2021 season and the 2018-2019 numbers.
This season’s total all-source live handle for 89 days of racing was $401,467,564, a 1.72% increase over last season and 18.62% above the 2018-19 mark . The total live on-track handle of $16,324,991 was a whopping 23.41% from last season and 2.98% from 2018-19.
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The betting handle per runner was $64,317, up 10.19% from last season and 28.08% from 2018-19. The average grip per run was $488,998.
Berube said the behind-the-scenes efforts of many key players were key to the track’s growing popularity. “The Race Office, led by (Racing Secretary) Allison De Luca, does a fantastic job of putting together highly competitive cards and educating owners and trainers on all that Tampa Bay Downs has to offer,” said Berube.
“Our track grooming team, led by Tom McLaughlin, will stop at nothing to keep both surfaces at a level of excellence. (Group Sales Manager) Nicole McGill and her staff continue to find creative ways to attract new fans, which is essential for our continued growth.”
A crowd of 7,756 attended Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Day season-ending card, which featured nine “live” races from Tampa Bay Downs generating more than $4.7 million in total bets. Most fans stayed afterwards to watch the Derby, won by Rich Strike 80-1, on the jumbo video card in the infield.
“It’s gratifying for all of us to see the huge enthusiasm for horse racing on big race days like the Kentucky Derby and the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby,” Berube said.
Thoroughbred racing will return to Tampa Bay Downs on June 30 and July 1 for the 10th Annual Summer Festival of Racing.
Tampa Bay Downs paid $18,204,465 on the stock market in 2021-22, up 8.02% from 2020-21 and 17.03% from 2018-19. The average daily scholarship distribution of $204,545 is a record.
“Racing is an expensive business, and the costs associated with participating have increased over the past few years,” Berube said. “In order for us to continue to grow our product, we need to continue to focus on ways to increase betting, which leads to increased money from the exchange.”
Mirroring trends at the majority of North American racetracks, the average field size per race has fallen to 7.86 from 8.27 horses per race last season. Berube said the drop in average field size is mainly due to a steady decline in the size of the colt crop in North America, from 28,420 in 2010 to around 19,200 in 2021.
With horses becoming harder to find, more Tampa Bay Downs riders than ever have chosen to replenish their stables through claiming races, which allow them to purchase horses at a pre-set price. An all-time record on the Oldsmar Oval of 351 horsepower was claimed (131 more than last season) at a total cost of $3,970,000.
About 30% of the horses claimed were searched by multiple riders, resulting in “shakes” (pulling winning claims out of a box) to determine the new owner.
At the racetrack, the 3-year-old Classic Causeway colt won both the Sam F. Davis Grade III Stakes and the Grade II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby to earn a place in the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, in which he finished 11th. Undefeated turf specialist (6 for 6) Bleecker Street, a 4-year-old filly, won both the Grade III Endeavor Stakes and the Grade II Hillsborough Stakes, returning to competition last Friday at Churchill Downs to win the Grade III Modesty Stakes presented by TwinSpires.
18-year-old apprentice jockey Madeline Rowland, from Landenberg, Pennsylvania, became a virtual sensation overnight, winning 34 races while completing high school online. She finished in ninth place in the track standings. Known to family, friends and now to an adoring public as Maddie, she was named Salt Rock Tavern’s Jockey of the Month in April and concluded her season riding four Kentucky Derby Day winners.
Samy Camacho was the top jockey on the track with 85 winners, good for his second consecutive title and his third in the last four years. Gerald Bennett won his seventh straight practice title and eighth overall with 36 wins.
The top owner entering the Summer Festival of Racing (the June 30 card, for record-keeping purposes, is officially the last day of the 2021-2022 competition) is Endsley Oaks Farm with 24 wins. Endsley Oaks in Brooksville, Florida is owned by Bob and Jill Jones.
Three horses are tied for the most competition wins, with four each: 3-year-old filly Katies a Lady, owned by Terry E. Davie and trained by Kathleen O’Connell; 10-year-old gelding Native Hawk, owned and trained by Juan Arriagada; and 6-year-old gelding Tony Small, owned by Mark Hoffman and trained by Maria Bowersock.
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