Watch Me Go won the 2011 Tampa Bay Derby.

Watch Me Go won the 2011 Tampa Bay Derby.

Tom Cooley Photography

Tampa Bay Numbers Increase Again

All-sources handle was up 8 percent over last year at Tampa.

For the second year in a row, Tampa Bay Downs concluded its meet with a record set for co-mingled all-sources handle.

Despite the loss of handle from New York City OTB parlors, the Oldsmar oval’s total all-sources handle grew to $411,484,853, up $30,495,981 or 8%; this was accomplished with one fewer racing day than the 2009-2010 season due to a mechanical failure.
The average all-source daily handle is a new record with $4,572,054 wagered daily on Tampa Bay Downs, a 9.2% increase. This translates to $436,820.49 wagered per race, also a new record, up 8.46% from last year’s figures.
Tampa Bay Downs’s vice president and general manager Peter Berube said of the record-setting increases, “I am very pleased with the outcome of our season. Fans and horsemen alike enjoyed a relatively dry and warm winter here, which certainly helped us increase attendance and on-track handle. Overall, we credit our lower takeout, large fields, 18% more turf racing and greater access to the California market as key to our success as well as a larger simulcast following nationwide.”
Racing secretary Allison De Luca said: “This season, we were pleased to see our average number of horses per race increase to 9.11, and to have the average purses paid out jump by over 5%. Horsemen continue to run here for our safe surfaces and strong stakes program, and it’s gratifying to get the kind of response we saw this season.
“I also was very pleased to see the dramatic increase in number of horses claimed this meet from last season. Over 50% more horses were claimed this season from last season, and the total cost of horses claimed was a 67% increase from last year. This speaks to the quality of horses going through the claiming ranks here as well as to the general confidence trainers and owners have about these horses’ potential for the future.”
Local Leaders
Jockey Ronnie Allen  Jr. was named as top rider for the season with 109 wins and $1,418,383 in purses. Allen will take his tack to Presque Isle Downs over the summer, and plans to return to ride at Tampa when racing resumes here again in December.
Allen captured the riding titles at Tampa in the 1984-85 meet as well as the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons. After overcoming personal issues, Allen returned to the oval in the 2008 meet and has perennially finished in the top five in the riders standings in subsequent years.
Trainers Gerald Bennett and Jamie Ness shared the trainer’s title for the 2010-2011 Tampa Bay season with 61 wins apiece. This is Bennett’s first training title. Ness earned his first training title in the 2006-07 campaign and has achieved this accolade each year since.
Owner Midwest Thoroughbreds was once again named as Tampa Bay’s leading owner for the track’s 85th meet. Midwest Thoroughbreds secured 59 victories, setting a new record for number of wins for an owner in a single season.