Handle Growth Spurs 7% Purse Hike at Tampa

An increase in handle on its live product had led Tampa Bay Downs to raise purses 7% effective Feb. 15. The daily average--overnight races and stakes--will be $140,000, a record for the track located in Oldsmar, Fla.

The minimum hike will be $300, and the maximum $1,500, according to a release. Business at Tampa Bay has been trending upward for several years in part because of an improved racing product that has gotten more and more looks in the simulcast marketplace.

"The main reason we're able to increase purses is our live racing's commingled handle is up 10%," track vice president and general manager Peter Berube said.

Since the meet began in mid-December, total average daily handle on live racing is $3.1 million, up from $2.8 million for the comparable period in 2003-04. By the time the 2003-04 session had ended, total average daily handle on the live product was $3.16 million.

Total daily average handle for the 2003-04 meet was up 24.1% from the 2002-03 meet.

This year marks the ninth consecutive Tampa Bay has set a record for daily average purses. In 2004, the track set a new mark when it paid an average of $135,727, up from $128,620 in 2002-03.