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Tampa Bay Downs to again raise its purses


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 7, 2000

Success breeds success and money makes money, two reasons Tampa Bay Downs will increase stakes purses for the second straight year when its 93-day meet commences Dec. 16.

A track record $1.5-million will be distributed in 22 stakes races -- 20 of them for thoroughbreds -- highlighted by a $200,000 pot for the March 18 Tampa Bay Derby. The ungraded Kentucky Derby prep will be more attractive with a $50,000 purse increase, meaning more quality aspirants are likely to enter.

The race's biggest selling point would be receiving a grade from the National Graded Stakes Committee, but Tampa Bay Downs can do nothing about that except attract quality runners. The purse increases, the track's second in two years, should help that cause.

Viewing the track as on an upswing, general manager John Grady said increasing purses was easy and good business. "We expect this upcoming meet to be very good," he said. "We projected ahead, and where we are, we expect to be able to take care of those purses with no problem."

The Grade III Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies received a $25,000 increase, to $150,000, and the Hillsborough Stakes turf race for fillies and mares increased by the same amount, to $100,000.

Disparity between stakes and overnight purses was a source of contention during negotiations between the track and the Tampa Bay Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association last winter. Track director of communications Margo Flynn, though unable to cite specific figures, said purses for overnights and local horsemen will increase an equal amount.

WOODWARD: Lemon Drop Kid, the leader of the handicap division with wins in three consecutive graded stakes, worked 6 furlongs in 1:13 1/5 last week at Saratoga before shipping back to Belmont Park to continue preparations for the Sept. 16 Woodward Stakes. The Grade I, $500,000 event will be contested over 11/8 miles.

The workout was the third for the Scotty Schulhofer-trained colt since he won the Grade I Whitney Handicap on Aug. 6.

STEPHEN GOT RETIRED: Stephen Got Even, who finished fourth in the 1999 Preakness and smashed a talented field in the Feb. 5 Donn Handicap, was retired to stud after injuring an ankle training for the Woodward.

The 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy set the highest Beyer speed figure of the year, 120, enough to beat Golden Missile, Behrens, Best of Luck, Sir Bear and Almutawakel in the 11/8-mile Donn.

Stephen Got Even, with five wins in 11 starts and earnings of $1,019,200, will stand at stud at William S. Farish's Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky., for $30,000 per live foal. Also, Arlington Million winner Chester House was retired to stud because of shoulder problems.

SURF'S UP: Surfside, the 3-year-old filly who had her Kentucky Derby hopes dashed because of chipped bones in both front ankles, may be healthy enough to compete in the Breeders' Cup on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

The daughter of Seattle Slew and winner of four Grade I races covered 5 furlongs in 1:01 under jockey Pat Day at Saratoga's Oklahoma track Saturday. Surfside has not raced since finishing fifth April 8 in the Santa Anita Derby.

"We're still debating about where we should send her after Saratoga," Lukas said. "I'd like to get her one start before the Breeders' Cup."

NTRA POLL: Lemon Drop Kid kept his solid lead in the weekly National Thoroughbred Racing Association thoroughbred poll, getting 16 of 19 first-place votes cast. Beautiful Pleasure, a 5-year-old mare, remained second, followed by Heritage of Gold, Golden Missile, and Fusaichi Pegasus, who with Unshaded were the only 3-year-olds in the top 10.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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