Grady Stepping Down as Tampa Bay Downs GM

John Grady Jr. is stepping down as vice president and general manager of Tampa Bay Downs to serve as a consultant to the Florida racetrack. His change in position takes effect May 31.

Taking Grady's place will be Peter Berube who started working at Tampa Bay Downs as controller in January 1995 and became vice president of finance and assistant general manager.

Tampa Bay Downs made significant strides and was harshly criticized by horsemen during Grady's tenure. The racetrack improved its grandstand, added a turf course, substantially grew its simulcasting revenue, and doubled it purses.

Racetrack management also had reputation for being heavy-handed during contract negotiations with the Tampa Bay Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. In 1999 and last December, Tampa Bay Downs started a meet without a purse contract. During the most recent contract dispute, Grady was accused of punishing Tampa Bay HBPA officers for the 1999 contract troubles by denying them or their trainers stall for the 2000-2001 meet. Grady defended his actions saying stall allocations were business decisions, not political ones. He said the demand for stalls simply exceeded availability. Grady also denied National HBPA president Rick Hiles access to the backside when Hiles attempted to mediate the deadlock. Hiles accused him of intimidation, while Grady said the contract dispute was a "local issue" and didn't need Hiles to mediate a resolution.

Contract negotiations were deadlocked for 15 days into the meet. During that time, purses were cut by 40% because simulcasting revenue dried up and field size suffered. A controversial vote finally ended the deadlock. Some horsemen claimed a 160-2 vote to stop the deadlock and settle with racetrack management was manipulated. Grady said the voting and vote counting were monitored by horsemen and track management, and was as fair as possible.