Friday, December 12, 2008

Opening Day at Tampa Bay

Photo: Tampa Bay Downs Website

Today is opening day at Tampa Bay Downs. For lack of a better term, TBD is our home away from home over the winter - at least for our horses. For us it's sub zero temperatures and shoveling snow all winter long with the hope that we may be able to get to Tampa for a week or two in the middle of it all. As some point, when millionaire-dom hits, it could very well be our home away from home as well.

There are always exciting things about an opening day: a dormant facility shakes itself to life, the turnstiles spin, the grandstands fill up again, the smell of hot dog is in the air and we can start racing again. Year round facilities don't get the kind of excitement that a winter only place like TBD or summer only place like Canterbury get on Opening Day. Most year round venues, when they close, open up again a month or two later. Even circuit tracks open and close every few months and alternate racing nearby so the fan doesn't miss much of anything. It's just far enough to Chicago from the Twin Cities or Miami from Tampa to make the "home meet" special.

Tampa's purses, knock on wood, have stayed level this year and the stakes program remains solid. What remains to be seen is how many of the snowbirds are going to come out and support the product to keep things positive over the course of the Meet. National numbers point to an inevitable year over year decline and none of the recent off the track racing news has been very positive, but I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that Tampa can stay level. As a client said to me recently, "Flat is the new up" when it comes to discussing year over year results.

With the train wreck that has become the winter meet at Calder, I wish the best of luck to all the fans, trainers, owners and staff a great 2008-09 meet. Oh, and I hope you get to see Missy and Fizzy in the winner's circle!!

1 comment:

PEM said...

Ted while at the state office at Calder yesterday I heard that ALL Stakes races in the final CRC book are now cancelled. It's funny but as I spent all afternoon with a number of Calder trainers-jocks-etc. the one unanimous theme was business at Calder stinks-(and having been there 3 times in the past month that is painfully obvious) mainly because the track refuses to promote itself.

Yet they all point to Tampa as being the exact opposite. More fan friendly-more promotions-I mean radio ads on constantly-maybe I'm just whistling in the dark here but I see no reason for business at TBD to fall off-simply because it has grown (a polar opposite to just about every other track in the country) so much in the past ten years.

Here's hoping!