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Downs wraps up meet today
By BRANT JAMES
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 7, 2000
OLDSMAR -- Tampa Bay Downs' 74th live racing meet concludes today with a 12-race card and special promotions.
As part of Fan Appreciation Day, the track will offer free grandstand admission and parking.
"There's a lot of excitement surrounding closing day," general manager John Grady said. "It's a happy time and a sad time because it's been a great season and you hate to see it end."
Four of the track's largest eight all-time crowds have been recorded on the final day of the meet, and Grady expects another throng today. It helps that the Kentucky Derby, which also lures large crowds, fell a day before the closing. "We have different crowds," he said. "Some wouldn't think of missing a Kentucky Derby day at the racetrack, and the others wouldn't imagine missing closing day.
"We expect to be very busy."
Live racing will resume in May, and the track will remain open daily for simulcast wagering. Gates open at 11 a.m.
No stakes will be contested today, and the trainer and jockey titles were decided before the weekend.
Don Rice wrapped up his fourth training title at the Downs with 33 wins in 198 starts through Tuesday, the last day of live racing before Saturday. Rice's horses had 21 places and 18 shows and earned $258,480. Barbara McBride came close to winning her first training title with 28 wins, 19 places, 19 shows and $201,474 in earnings in 147 starts. Neither trainer entered horses this weekend.
T.D. Houghton secured his second straight jockey title at Tampa Bay with 76 wins, 76 places, 70 shows and $684,925 in earnings. William Henry was a distant second at 58-39-34 with $533,145 in 291 starts. Jorge Callazo Jr. was the top apprentice rider with 17 victories.
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