OLDSMAR — Peter Berube wasn't available to talk about the Tampa Bay Downs season that ended Sunday. Chances are, when the track vice president and general manager releases final numbers this week for the 2009-10 season, they will reflect how challenging the 91-day meet was.
The Downs had declines across the board in money wagered compared to last year in statistics reported by the track to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering from December through March (April wasn't available).
Impacted most were on-track handle — simulcast wagering was down 21.67 percent, and live wagering dropped 19.59 percent. Total handle, including intertrack wagering, was lower by 10.92 percent, from $78,621,266 to $70,034,977. Poker-room receipts represented a 1.13 percent gain.
A down economy and inclement weather affected the track's 84th season. The future is expected to be even more demanding after Gov. Charlie Crist and state legislators recently approved an exclusive gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, limiting gambling options for parimutuel sites.
On the Downs' closing day two years ago, Berube said, "If that (deal) is in our favor, I think we can hold our own for a while, but not forever. If that comes out the other way, it's going to really impact us."
One highlight was Saturday when 2010 Tampa Bay Derby third-place finisher Super Saver became Oldsmar's second graduate to win the Kentucky Derby.
The meet also was marred by the deaths of exercise riders Robert Shields and Felipe Sosa in horse-related accidents.
Jockey Daniel Centeno won his fourth consecutive championship with 133 victories. Jamie Ness and Kathleen O'Connell shared the trainer title, each with 51 wins. It is the fourth straight crown for Ness, whose client Midwest Thoroughbreds was leading owner with a track-record 43 victories. Kristina McManigell was the top apprentice rider with 13 wins. Party of Eight led horses in wins with five.