09/08/2005 12:00AM

Stakes money at record level


Tampa Bay Downs will offer a record $2.3 million in stakes during its 94-day 2005-06 meeting, which begins on Dec. 10. The Tampa, Fla., oval celebrates its 80th anniversary this year.

The Grade 3, $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby will again highlight the stakes schedule. It is one of four stakes to be offered on the March 18 Festival Day program, which will also include the Florida Oaks, the Grade 3 Hillsborough Stakes, and the Turf Dash.

The purses for several stakes have been increased this meet. The Florida Oaks purse has been raised $50,000, to $200,000; the Hillsborough $25,000, to $150,000; the Endeavour Breeders' Cup, Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup, and Sam F. Davis Stakes $25,000, to $125,000; and the Pasco Stakes $15,000, to $75,000.

"We have increased the purses on several stakes races and focused on improving the races on the schedule that are on the cusp of being graded," said Peter Berube, Tampa Bay vice president and general manager. "We feel that the quality of horses running in these six races in the past merits additional purse monies."

Festival Day is one of four multiple-stakes programs on the calendar. The others are Festival Preview Day on Feb. 18, Florida Cup Day on April 8, and closing day, May 7.

Tampa Bay Downs has a new racing secretary for the upcoming meet, John Morrissey.

Tampa Bay Downs set a record last year for total all-sources handle and total ontrack handle. Average daily purses were up nearly 7 percent, to $144,967, in 2004-2005.

2005-2006 stakes schedule

Sat.,Dec. 10Inaugural Stakes2YO6 furlongs$60,000
Sat.,Dec. 31Sandpiper Stakes2YO F6 furlongs60,000
Sat.,Jan. 7Minaret StakesF&M, 4YO & Up6 furlongs60,000
Sat.,Jan. 14Pelican Stakes4YO & Up6 furlongs60,000
Sat.,Jan. 21Gasparilla Stakes3YO F7 furlongs60,000
Sat.,Jan. 28Pasco Stakes3YO7 furlongs75,000
Sat.,Feb. 4Manatee StakesF&M, 4YO & Up7 furlongs60,000
Sat.,Feb. 11Super Stakes4YO & Up7 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Feb. 18Endeavour Breeders' Cup StakesF&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles (T)125,000
Sat.,Feb. 18Suncoast Stakes3YO F1 1/16 miles60,000
Sat.,Feb. 18Sam F. Davis Stakes3YO1 1/16 miles125,000
Sat.,Feb. 25Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles (T)125,000
Sat.,March 4Wayward Lass StakesF&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles60,000
Sat.,March 11Budweiser Challenger Stakes4YO & Up1 1/16 miles65,000
Sat.,March 18Florida Oaks3 YO F1 1/16 miles200,000
Sat.,March 18Hillsborough Stakes (G3)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,March 18Tampa Bay Derby (G3)3YO1 1/16 miles250,000
Sat.,March 18Turf Dash3YO & Up 5 furlongs (T)75,000
Sat.,April 8Stonehenge Farm South3YO F*7 furlongs75,000
Sat.,April 8Ogle & Company Turf DistaffF&M, 4YO & Up*1 1/16 miles (T)75,000
Sat.,April 8Ocala Breeders' Sales3YO*7 furlongs75,000
Sat.,April 8Dayton Andrews Dodge3YO*1 1/16 miles (T)75,000
Sat.,April 8Hilton Garden Inn Sprint4YO & Up*6 furlongs75,000
Sat.,April 8Cherokee River Turf Classic4YO & Up*1 1/8 miles (T)75,000
Sat.,May 6Chris Thomas Turf Classic3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)75,000
Sat.,May 6Lightning City StakesF&M, 3YO & Up5 furlongs (T)75,000

* Florida-breds preferred