Clear skies, a sizable on-track crowd and problems with the new timing system greeted the return of racing to Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday.
Kicking off its 90-day stand, Tampa Bay Downs welcomed back patrons for the first time since the track was restricted to essential personnel during its previous meet on March 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mike Henry, publicity assistant for Tampa, did not have an official attendance count available, but noted officials were pleased with the turnout.
“We had a pretty good day,” Henry said. “We had beautiful weather and what looked to be a good crowd. People were out having a good time.”
Issues with the race-timing system started with the opener when internal fractions were not initially provided. Tampa Bay this season is using the Equibase timing system after previously employing Trakus. Margo Flynn, vice president of marketing and publicity for Tampa Bay Downs, noted Equibase plans to double check the times posted via video monitoring.
"Obviously we had a few glitches, especially with the timing system the first couple of races," Flynn said. "Equibase has assured us they are doing quality control and are examining the final times and quarter times through video monitoring. We expect everything to be up and running perfectly on Friday barring anything else happening we can't foresee."
All-sources handle for the nine-race program -- which featured mostly large fields -- was $3,860,672, an increase of 14.6% from last year’s opening-day nine race program. Handle was buoyed by significant increases in both Pick 5 pools. The early Pick 5 pool was $185,147, up from just $47,180 last year, while the late Pick 5 pool increased from $67,632 to $115,454.
Samy Camacho, Tampa’s leading rider during the 2018-19 season, broke from the blocks fast when tallying three wins, a second and a third on the opening day program.