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Tampa Bay Downs trainer dies of infection after beach trip, family says

Robert Raymond, 74, visited Mobbly Beach Park in Oldsmar, where bacteria from the water got into a small cut on his leg and resulted in an infection, according to his family.
In this March photo, Tampa Bay Downs trainer Robert "Bobby" Raymond is seen with his wife, Kathy, outside the Tampa Bay Downs paddock.
In this March photo, Tampa Bay Downs trainer Robert "Bobby" Raymond is seen with his wife, Kathy, outside the Tampa Bay Downs paddock. [ The Tampa Bay Downs ]
Published May 10|Updated May 10

A 74-year-old Tampa Bay Downs trainer died Sunday of septic shock after a small cut got infected by bacteria in the waters of an Oldsmar beach, according to a statement Monday from the racetrack.

Robert “Bobby” Raymond, who trained nearly 1,300 winners during his 43-year career, visited Mobbly Beach Park, 807 Shore Dr. E, Wednesday with his wife, Kathy. While at the beach, bacteria entered Bobby Raymond’s body through a small cut on his right leg, his son, Rob Raymond, told Tampa Bay Downs. Bobby Raymond complained of soreness in his leg Thursday, the younger Raymond told the racetrack. By Friday morning, Raymond’s leg was inflamed and he was rushed to a local hospital.

Raymond’s condition worsened and he went into septic shock. He died Sunday at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safety Harbor, according to the Tampa Bay Downs statement.

“He touched so many people, and the outpouring of love and affection we’ve received the last 24 hours has been unbelievable,” Rob Raymond told the Tampa Bay Downs. “We’ve had people calling, offering condolences from Cuba to Canada.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people with open wounds to avoid open bodies of water, such as the Gulf of Mexico, as well as pools and hot tubs. The people with the greatest risk of exposure to bacteria in water are young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, according to the Florida Department of Health.

During the 2021-2022 Tampa Bay Downs season, Bobby Raymond finished with 17 victories, according to the racetrack. He was named the track’s Salt Rock Tavern Trainer of the Month in March.

Charlie Miranda, a steward at the Tampa Bay Downs and a member of the Tampa City Council, said everyone spoke highly of Bobby Raymond, from veterinarians to jockeys.

“He was a big guy ... when you see him, he looked a little on the rough side,” Miranda said. “But his heart inside was bigger than the whole racetrack.”

Miranda says to be a trainer, a person not only has to be dedicated but also humble. A trainer is lucky to win 15-20 percent of their races, he said.

“That’s how it humbles you,” Miranda said. “It makes you a better person, in a way.”

John Morrissey, a friend of Bobby Raymond’s for nearly 40 years, said the elder Raymond was good at rolling with the punches, and he loved his job — win or lose.

Raymond began working at the Suffolk Downs in Boston in 1979, where he met Morrissey. In 2003, Raymond traveled south to Florida, where he started his first season with the Tampa Bay Downs.

“He was just the kind of person that, you know, hit the racetrack and everybody knew him, and everybody liked him,” Morrissey said. “When you said ‘Bob,’ everybody pretty much knew who you were talking about.”

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