05/05/2003 11:00PM

Tampa handle hits record

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All-sources handle on races at Tampa Bay Downs was up 22 percent to a record $2,550,096 daily average for the 93-day meet that ended on Sunday, according to figures released by the track.

Peter Berube, Tampa Bay's general manager, credited an average field size of 9.3 horses during the meet for the handle gains. He also said that Tampa adjusted its live racing schedule to fill holes in the national simulcast market, such as running on three Mondays in January when Gulfstream Park was dark.

"We looked for the opportunities out there and we adjusted our schedule accordingly," Berube said.

Average daily purse distribution of $128,620 was also a record during the meet.

Ontrack attendance and handle fell, however. The average attendance was 3,151, compared with 3,291 last year, and ontrack average handle was $243,181, down 4.1 percent from $253,767 in 2002.