Tampa Bay Downs, in conjunction with the track's Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association division, will boost purses for all overnight races on Festival Day, March 18, by 35%. The increase, which amounts to $5,000 per race, is expected to increase to more than $850,000 the total purse money that will be paid out that day, including stakes and breeders' monies. "We are trying to make the afternoon even bigger by increasing our overnight purses with the belief that field size and mutuel handle will increase substantially," said vice president and general manager Peter Berube. "We expect the response from horsemen and the public to be very positive and our goal is to come up with one of the best cards of the entire year."
Last year's total Festival Day handle of $6,889,834 represented an increase from the previous year of more than $1.5 million and this season's prep card for Festival Day, headlined by the Sam F. Davis Stakes, has already posted record co-mingled mutuel handle of $7,430,768.