Boycott Forces Tampa Bay to Cut Purses

General manager Peter Berube announced today that effective, Jan. 29, purses for races at Tampa Bay Downs will be reduced.

The action is necessitated by the decision of seven tracks outside of Florida to deny Tampa Bay Downs access to their simulcast broadcast signals. According to Berube, the action will have an $800,000 negative impact on Tampa Bay Downs' season and purse account.

Berube said he is disappointed in the efforts of the leadership of the local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), as well as its national leadership which has encouraged the tracks to take this action.

"We have a signed contract with our HBPA, and support for the contract by the majority of HBPA directors and members, Berube said. "But, because the president of the local HBPA was not allocated stalls for his horses during the present racing season, he is promoting this boycott."

According to Berube, the national HBPA leadership has encouraged affiliated HBPA organizations to deny access by Tampa Bay Downs to their simulcast signals due to the "discrimination" of Tampa Bay Downs HBPA President Bob Jeffries. "He (Jeffries) failed to offer a proper mix of horses for the 2002 season. But, because he is the HBPA president, he felt he should have been allocated stalls. To do so would offend other horsemen who complied with our stall policy," the general manager said.

The tracks denying the signal include Turfway Park, Turf Paradise, Sam Houston Race Park, Fair Grounds, Delta Downs, Charles Town Races, and Beulah Park.

Berube plans to meet with the horsemen Thursday to advise them of the purse adjustment.