Steady growth in interstate wagering, total handle and purse payouts highlighted the 81st season of live thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs, which ended May 6. The Oldsmar, Fla., track also celebrated a record single-day attendance May 5 when a crowd of 11,014 witnessed Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) winner Street Sense capture the 133rd Kentucky Derby.
All-source handle was $385,787,682, up 5.29% compared to last year, and a new single-day record for all-source handle of $10,916,634 was set on the March 17 Festival Day. The daily average of $4,104,124 marked the first time Tampa Bay Downs eclipsed $4 million.
“I am very pleased by how the season progressed,” said Tampa Bay Downs General Manager Peter Berube. “Closing weekend was highlighted by Tampa Bay Derby winner Street Sense winning the Kentucky Derby, as well as record attendance for the afternoon. Overall we finished with some of the strongest numbers amongst tracks running through the winter months and are looking forward to what the future has in store for us.”
The record-high $2.5 million stakes program helped produce an average daily on-track live handle of $315,605 per day. Tampa Bay Downs recorded an average of $160,673 in purse money paid daily, a new record for the oval. Average field size was 8.85 horses per race, down 7.5% from the 9.57 average of last year, and horsemen claimed a record 333 horses in the 94 days of racing.
“The increase in the number of horses claimed is a positive sign in the barn area, indicating a solid horse population,” said Allison De Luca, who just completed her first year as Tampa Bay Downs’ racing secretary.
Tampa Bay Downs offered a record number of 226 turf races this season, up six from last year.
The track attendance of 3,437 fans per race day was 64 people shy of the 2005-2006 meet daily average.