Tampa: Improvements, Slightly Lower Takeout

The Florida racetrack will open Dec. 3 for a 2011-12 meet that runs through May 6.

Tampa Bay Downs will open its 2011-12 meet Dec. 3 with lower pari-mutuel takeout rates on some wagers and $1.5 million in capital improvements, including introduction of the Trakus system that displays each horse’s position in a race.

It will mark the earliest opening day in the history of the Florida racetrack, which has become one of the premier winter racing facilities in the United States over the past decade.

“Once again, we look forward to meeting the challenges of enhancing our live racing product and providing our fans and horsemen the most enjoyable experience possible,” Tampa Bay vice president and general manager Peter Berube said. “As the economy continues to rebound, we believe we are in position to continue our growth as a premier winter racing destination and multifaceted entertainment complex.”

Officials said Nov. 8 the takeout rate for win, place, and show wagers has been reduced to 17% from 17.5% at the last meet. Also, a 50-cent Pick 5 wager with a 15% takeout rate will be offered for the first time. The Pick 5 will replace the Pick 6.

Trakus is in use at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Woodbine. It not only shows where horses are in each race but calculates how much ground each horse covers.

“We believe Trakus will be a welcome addition for our regular Tampa Bay Downs customers, occasional visitors and our vast simulcast audience,” Berube said.

As for capital improvements, Tampa Bay has added 55 flat-screen televisions; the parking area has been enlarged; an environment-friendly lighting system will be ready for the live meet; and storage sheds in the barn area have been replaced.

According to the first condition book purses will be on par with those of the 2010-11 meet, with maiden special weight races going for $20,000.

The Tampa Bay meet will run through May 6, 2012, with post time set for 12:25 p.m. Eastern. Live racing will be offered three to five days per week depending on the month.