OLDSMAR — If it's not broke, don't fix it. That is the philosophy Tampa Bay Downs, Derby Lane and Tampa Greyhound Track have stuck with in regards to their respective racing dates for next season. Schedules for the 2014-15 fiscal year that begins July 1 were released this week by the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation — Division of Parimutuel Wagering!
Tampa Bay Downs, the thoroughbred track in Oldsmar, is scheduled to hold another 91-day meet, including a two-day Summer Festival of Racing June 30-July 1 for the second consecutive year. The current meet concludes June 30, and the Downs' 89th season kicks off July 1. Live racing will then take a hiatus until Nov. 29, when the majority of the performances will run through May 3. Another break follows before the final day of live racing on June 30, 2015. The unique schedule, approved by the state's parimutuel division, allows the Downs to be classified as a year-round, live horse-racing facility. That makes the Oldsmar oval a host track, allowing it to purchase simulcast signals from other host sites, sell them to various state parimutuel sites (known as guest tracks) and retain all revenue. In past seasons, the Downs had to give Calder and its horsemen an undisclosed portion of the simulcast money since the Miami Gardens site was the host track in the summer and fall.
The move has been a financial boon to the Downs, which raised purses 15 percent this year. Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach is following the Downs' lead.
Department spokeswoman Tajiana Ancora-Brown said in an email: "This (host track) issue is the subject of current litigation. The Division has entered into rule development regarding this issue."
It is believed Churchill Downs, the parent company of Calder, is the complainant. The Downs declined comment on next season's dates.
Little has changed with greyhound racing dates at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg and Tampa Greyhound. Both tracks were granted six-month racing permits with all racing at Derby Lane. Tampa's schedule is for 209 performances (up one from this year) from July 1 through Dec. 31. Derby Lane again will have 207 performances from Jan. 1 through June 30. The weekly format for each track is eight performances with doubleheaders on Wednesday and Saturday. Tampa will have Monday matinees in December, and Derby Lane will do likewise from January through May. There will be no racing on Sunday.
The Tampa meet has been at Derby Lane since ending live racing in 2007 in order to offer poker and simulcast wagering.
"Most all the greyhound people should be satisfied with racing the same amount of days that we always have," Tampa Bay Greyhound Association president Cal Holland said.
HORSES: The $60,000 Challenger Stakes (Race 8, 3:50 p.m.) heads Saturday's card at the Downs. Local tracks maintain stable schedules