05/16/2012 4:42PM

Tampa Bay Downs sees handle drop

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Average all-sources wagering for the 2011-12 meet at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla., declined 10.9 percent compared with the meet held a year earlier, according to figures provided by the track.

The average for the 92-day meet was $4.15 million, down from $4.76 million in the 90-day meet held a year earlier. This year, field size at Tampa was down from 9.11 to 8.54, and the track’s signal was not available on Television Games Network, a leading horse racing broadcaster.

In a statement, Peter Berube, the general manager of Tampa Bay, said the decline in field size, the lack of presence on TVG, and the dearth of winter-weather cancellations at Northeast tracks were major factors in the decline. Tampa’s simulcast signal competes with winter signals from other tracks.

“With all that, we still averaged about $4.15 million a day, which again made us the fourth most popular winter signal in the country,” Berube said.

Tampa Bay Downs has been one of the few tracks to post steady gains in handle over the past decade. Ten years ago, average all-sources handle on one of the track’s cards was $2 million, and the decline this year is the first significant drop over that time span.

Ontrack average attendance was 3,148, a slight decline from average attendance last year of 3,195. Ontrack handle also declined slightly, from an average of $226,855 last year to $219,842 this year. Purses increased slightly, from an average of $160,944 last year to $162,320, with the gain being attributable to a “minimal decline in overall parimutuel revenue,” Tampa said, in part because of a jump in handle on imported simulcasts during the meet.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In previous years, I used to play Tampa a lot. In fact it was my favorite track. This year I played Tampa minimally due to the chalky dominance of several trainers. In the early years of Tampa's handle increase, there were no trainers who trained at 50% with a high volume of starts (or low volume for that matter). The racing was extremely competitive and actually fun. I'm not going to accuse Ness of cheating, but do think that to level the playing field and make racing competitive again, it should be required that every horse racing has EVERY medication that has been used in the horse listed. It is not training ability to find a vet who makes custom drugs that are not detectable or give an unfair advantage to a trainer. Let all trainers use what Ness uses, than the playing field is level and racing is competitive. We would also see what kind of horse trainer Ness really is, as opposed to just having good vets.