Edited from release
Stall applications for the upcoming 2003-04 Tampa Bay Downs' meeting have soared to 2,855, 25% higher than last year's applications for the track's 1,378 available stalls. The 93-day meet opens Dec. 13 and runs through May 2, 2004.
"The response has been gratifying as well as a little overwhelming," said Bob Clark, the track's racing secretary. "We're seeing applications from all over the country, from Belmont to Del Mar; Great Lakes Downs to Calder, and just about every track in between. The decision making process is intensive for the Stall Committee and myself; as we want to stay loyal to the horsemen that have supported us through the years while leaving the door open for some new horsemen as well."
With applications for more than 600 stalls from new outfits seeking to winter at Tampa Bay Downs for the first time, many will have to ship in to race with stall space at such a premium.
During the 2002-03-season Tampa horsemen supported the entry box strongly giving the track an average field size of 9.25, one of the highest in the country. Those horsemen reaped the rewards from the track's simulcast growth when Tampa Bay Downs raised purses five times during the season, resulting in total purses distributed of $11,961,620, averaging $128,620 per day - both records for the track.
The 2003-04 stakes schedule will offer 24 stakes worth an estimated $2 million, the highest level in the track's history.
On April 4, a renewal of last year's Florida Cup Day - a six stakes card for Florida-breds preferred worth a total $450,000 - will join Tampa Bay Downs' Festival Day, the meet's traditional marquee event on March 14, as season highlights.