Edited press release
Continuing a trend that began several years ago, on-track and total handle, as well as daily average overnight purses, at Tampa Bay Downs showed solid gains when the Florida racetrack hit the midpoint of its 2005-06 season the week of Feb. 20.
On-track handle on the live product was $311,000 at the 48-day midway point of the meet, up 7.3% from last year. All-sources handle on live racing averaged $3.69 million, up 10.9% from last year. Overnight purses have averaged $128,300 per day, up 6%, or $7,300 a day, from the 2004-05 season.
On Feb. 18, Tampa Bay Downs set a single-day total handle record of $7,430,768 on a program that featured three stakes, including the Sam F. Davis Stakes, a prep for the March 18 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III).
Only on-track attendance has showed a decline, though track officials attributed that to inclement weather on major racing days and a switch from Wednesday to Monday racing in January. Attendance for the first 48 days of the meet averaged 3,291, down 1.6% from last season.
The average number of starters per race was 9.84, up from 9.34 last season.
"To date, Tampa has enjoyed a very strong race meeting," track vice president and general manager Peter Berube said. "The first 48 days of the season have been exceptional in terms quality and growth of live handle both on and off track. As a result, overnight purses paid are up a respectable 6% over the 2004-05 season, and with several key race days ahead of us, I truly believe that another record meet will be completed on May 7, 2006."