Tomorrow is the 85th opening of Tampa Bay Downs. I had to look twice when I read the press release. When most folks think of the old and stories palaces of racing, most don't think about Tampa Bay - let alone know that this will be the 85th year of racing at the Oldsmar, FL racetrack. As we keep hearing about racetracks and purses in decline, Tampa Bay seems to be in ascendancy. The purses for some stakes have been boosted while the Tampa Bay Derby will be a Grade II event this year and the Tampa Bay Stakes (formerly the Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup) was designated a Grade III.
Unlike our friends in California who, amidst declining purses went ahead and hammered players on increased takeout, TBD has once again reduced the takeout on some of it's most popular wagers like the Pick 3, Pick 4, Super hi-five and Pick 6 by 1%. Granted, these are no bargains at 18%, but now you're starting to get closer to the takeouts (hold percentages) at some of the competing casinos. In addition, Tampa is once again offering free grandstand admission and parking - another continued step in the right direction in being more player centric. A new wager on the card this year will be the $0.50 Pick 3, a wager that has been popular in its Pick 4 incarnation and, I think, prove very popular as a Pick 3.
It's good to see a racetrack moving in the right direction and not being shy to shout it from the rooftops. Best of luck to everyone racing this season. I hope to make it down this year and watch Tabby in person this winter and experience the TBD hospitality first hand.