Despite declines in on-track handle and attendance, the 84th season of live racing at Tampa Bay Downs concluded May 2, with the Oldsmar, Fla., track reporting a 5.16% increase in average daily all-source handle to a record of nearly $4.2 million.
Tampa Bay reported total wagering of $380,938,090, up $6,739,919 or 1.8%; during the 91-day meet, which was three fewer racing days than the 91 contested during the 2008-2009 season. Average daily attendance of 3,090 represented a decline of 4% from the 2008-2009 meet and average daily on-track handle fell 14.73% to $217,025.
"Considering that Tampa Bay has the third-highest rate of unemployment in the country for a major metropolitan area, combined with the fact that this was the coldest winter on record according to the National Weather Service, it justifies the decreases in our on-track handle and attendance," vice president and general manager Peter Berube said in a release.
In other key statistical categories, the average number of horses per race fell 4% to 8.95 and average daily purses paid declined 2% to $153,223. Among the horses who competed at Tampa Bay this year was eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Super Saver, who ran third in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III).
Daniel Centeno, who has captured the Tampa Bay Downs jockey title for four years in a row, was named top rider for the current season, with 133 wins and $1,682,868 in purses. Centeno plans to ride at Monmouth Park over the summer and return to ride at Tampa when racing resumes in December.
Kathleen O’Connell and Jamie Ness shared the trainer’s title, with 51 wins each. O’Connell, who won the training title in 1998-1999, was also leading trainer at Calder Race Course. Ness earned his first training title in the 2006-07 campaign and has achieved this accolade each year since. This year, the South Dakota native saddled 51 winners from 143 starters this year with purse earnings approaching $700,000.
Midwest Thoroughbreds was leading owner, with 43 victories, setting a new record for number of wins for an owner in a single season