Over the past decade Tampa Bay Downs has emerged as a major player
on the winter racing scene with the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby developing
into a legitimate Kentucky Derby prep. On the business side, the
operation has almost doubled its all-sources average daily handle.
But last season the track suffered declines in both handle and
average field size, with all-sources handle down almost 11 percent from
the previous year and field size dropping from 9.11 to 8.54 horses per
race. Contributing factors included problems with the turf course late
in the season and a disagreement that kept Tampa’s races from being
broadcast on Television Games Network.
As the track begins a 91-day meeting Saturday, management is
cautiously optimistic that a revised racing schedule, a vigorous slate
of turf racing, and a return to TVG will help the operation bounce back.