From Tampa Bay Downs
The 82nd season of Tampa Bay Downs racing will feature record increases for both its stakes schedule and daily average purses, it was announced Sept. 20.
When the 2007-08 racing season begins at the Oldsmar, Fla., racetrack Dec. 8, a record $2.6 million in purses will be dispersed for 26 stakes, beginning with the $65,000 Lightning City Stakes on opening day.
The 94-day meet is highlighted by the $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III), which was won last year by eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) champion Street Sense. The March 15 Tampa Bay Derby is one of four stakes on Festival Day, totaling $750,000 in purses. Also on the card are the $200,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, the $175,000 Hillsborough Stakes (gr. III) for older fillies and mares, and the five-furlong, $75,000 Turf Dash.
Later in the meet is Florida Cup Day, which includes six stakes for Florida-breds, each of them with an $85,000 purse. Held on April 5, the program offers a variety of distances for both 3-year-olds and older horses.
"Tampa Bay Downs has just exited the most successful and gratifying season to date and is poised to continue the upward trend through the 2008 meet. Purses for (the first condition book) are at an all-time high, including the recent enhancements to the stakes schedule,” Tampa Bay vice president and general manager Peter Berube said. “These increases are due to recent changes of card-room legislation and the continued popularity of the racing product."
Other major racing days on the calendar include the first annual Cotillion Festival Day Dec. 29, which features a series of races for 2-year olds, and Festival Preview Day Feb. 16, highlighted by the $200,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, targeting 3-year-old Tampa Bay Derby and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) hopefuls.
Purses are projected to rise to a record $170,000 during the meet, which concludes May 4.
“We’re excited to be able to boost purses,” racing secretary Allison DeLuca said. “Tampa Bay Downs also has a great main track and turf course, which we know is crucial to the horsemen; and along with our extensive 3-year-old program, the Oldsmar oval is a great place to winter.”