09/29/2017 8:40AM

Average daily handle declines slightly at Emerald Downs

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Despite brutal weather in the Pacific Northwest last spring, the mutuel handle at the 2017 Emerald Downs meet that ended last Sunday held its own compared to last year.

According to numbers released by Emerald officials, the all-sources total handle of $69,581,303 for 72 days was a small increase over the $68,259,384 wagered over 70 days in 2016. The $966,406 daily average was down slightly from $975,134 last year.

Ontrack total handle of $11,321,695 was up marginally from $11,710,658 in 2016.

Emerald general manager Phil Ziegler said he was pleased with how the meet progressed.

“We may have had a rough spring, but we had a record number of fast tracks due to the fantastic weather in the summer,” he said. “We have been focusing our marketing efforts at bringing families to the races, and it is working well. A good example is that we had over 12,000 people turn up to see the corgi races. We believe the children of our current patrons are our fans of the future.”

The meet was originally scheduled for 70 days but was extended due to a record spring rainfall that resulted in several shortened weekend cards.

“Horsemen endured an historically wet spring, so the extra days were an important addition to the schedule,” Ziegler said.

Rocco Bowen easily repeated as leading rider. He won 162 races, well clear of Julien Couton who was the runner-up in the standings with 65 wins.

Blaine Wright dominated the trainer’s standing while winning his second-straight title. He won 53 races, including 10 stakes. Wright also established a single-season record at Emerald with 35.8 percent win rate.

John Parker was the leading owner with 22 wins and earnings of $329,297. Parker’s biggest win came in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile with Gold Rush Dancer. The 4-year-old California-bred is trained by Vann Belvoir.

The Frank Lucarelli-trained Mach One Rules, second in the Mile, was voted the horse of the meeting.