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Flooding postpones opening of Downs

Unusuable parking lots force Tampa Bay Downs to move races to Tuesday.

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 15, 2002

OLDSMAR -- The track was wet but firm. Trouble was, the parking lots were submerged.

Tampa Bay Downs management postponed the opener of its 94-day live meet on Saturday after a week of heavy rain left the facility's parking lots under water.

Opening day will be moved to Tuesday, the next scheduled live racing day.

"We worked hard (Friday) hoping we might be able to move some of the water out of there," track general manager Peter Berube said. "But the tides did not cooperate and give us the drainage we needed, and by 7:30 (a.m.) it was clear we were not going to be able to get the majority of it out of the lots."

TBD had not canceled a live date because of submerged lots since 1997.

Berube said the day would be made up before the meet ends in May. Still, the makeup will not replace a choice weekend slot when wagering and fan excitement generally are piqued. Berube said an economic impact assessment has not been made but conceded the revenue losses would be "significant."

Horses that were scheduled to run Saturday will receive preferential treatment for entry into Tuesday's races, Berube said.

Among the races to be moved is the $50,000 Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-olds.

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