By T. D. Thornton
A plan is in the works to extend the race meet at Tampa Bay Downs beyond its scheduled May 3 closing, but a track official deferred comment on specifics while the request is pending at the state level.
The Tampa overnight for the Apr. 24 races (drawn on Apr. 19), led with the notice “Attention Horsemen: We are seriously considering extending the meet,” but no additional details were disclosed.
When reached via phone on Tuesday, Peter Berube, Tampa’s vice president and general manager, said, “I’m really not going to comment until I get the approval back from the state, and I anticipate getting that sometime this week.”
TDN could not reach a representative from the Tampa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association for comment. That organization’s on-track office is keeping limited hours as a pandemic precaution.
There are currently four other Thoroughbred tracks running spectator-free meets in America. Gulfstream Park is scheduled to run through Sep. 27. Oaklawn Park closes May 2 and has indicated its meet will not be extended. Fonner Park races through Apr. 29, but a 12-date extension is on the agenda for Wednesday’s Nebraska Racing Commission meeting. Will Rogers Downs is currently racing through May 20.
Tampa’s contiguous winter/spring meet traditionally closes in early May, although the schedule annually contains one quirk–a standalone single-day program, this year scheduled for June 30–that is related to a fiscal technicality at the state level. That lone date allows Tampa to be classified as a live racing facility for the entire year, which enables the track to import simulcasts year-round without having to take them through another permit-holder in the state of Florida.