By Monique Welch
A new LED tote board, bigger and brighter TVs in the clubhouse carrels area and a second Pick 5 bet are among changes that fans will find when Tampa Bay Downs opens its season on Saturday.
The Saturday card will have eleven races with first post time of 12:10 p.m.
Tampa Bay Downs general manager Peter Berube believes the new additions and major improvements will contribute heavily to the overall success of the meet and to the fan experience.
Tampa Bay will continue with its Pick 5 on the day’s last five races.
On days with ten or more races it will also have a Pick 5 on the first five races.
On both, the minimum bet is 50 cents. The takeout for both Pick 5 bets is 15 percent, which Berube notes is “one
of the lowest” for that bet in the country.
Tampa Bay’s Pick 5 takeout is less than its Win, Place, show takeout of 17 percent—which is among the lowest in the country.
The introduction of HD broadcasting will improve the simulcast viewing experience. It will include the addition of 250 flat-screen, 19-inch TVs throughout the carrels area in the clubhouse.
Admission is free on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and is $3 on other days. On all days, it comes with a free house tip sheet.
To add to the excitement, Tampa Bay Downs has announced its largest stakes schedule with 24 races worth nearly $3 million.
The stakes schedule begins Saturday Dec. 3 with two $100,000 stakes races for 2-year-olds sprinting at six furlongs: the 32nd Inaugural Stakes for colts and geldings and the 38th Sandpiper Stakes for fillies.
The two biggest days are Feb. 11, 2017, the Festival Day Preview, and March 11, Festival Day.
The Festival Preview Day feature is the $250,000 Sam F. Davis (Grade 3) for three-year-olds.
The Festival Day program has five stakes, including the 37th edition of the $350,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2) for three-year-olds.
Tampa Bay Downs has added spirit companies EG Vodka and 14 Hands Winery to its list of sponsors for $100,000 stakes races on its 15th annual Florida Cup Day program on April 2.
Berube gave credit to Margo Flynn, Tampa Bay Downs' vice president of marketing and publicity, saying that “she has done a tremendous job in marketing and securing our sponsorships.”
Berube is not only excited for the upcoming competitive season at Tampa Bay Downs but also expressed his confidence that the trainers, jockeys, and most importantly, the fans, will be thrilled with everything in store this season at Tampa Bay Downs.
- Monique Welch