12/13/2005 1:00AM

Average handle shows increase

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Total wagering from all sources was up 7.7 percent on live Thoroughbred racing at Woodbine this year, the Woodbine Entertainment Group announced Tuesday.

Total wagering on Woodbine races was $364,436,580(Can), compared with $338,349,020 last year.

The daily average handle, based on racing dates on which any live races were run, was $2,222,174 this year, compared with $2,026,042 in 2004, an increase of 9.7 percent.

Both meetings were scheduled for 167 days, but Woodbine lost three full cards because of weather and track conditions this year, and another 22 races on five cards were canceled for various reasons. There were no full-card cancellations in the the 167-day meeting last year, but a total of 25 races were lost on five programs.

"We were even in the Toronto market," said Sean Pinsonneault, Woodbine's vice president of wagering operations. "And although our U.S. export wagering was up, [the increase in handle] was primarily due to being in the California market for the whole year."

Wagering in the Toronto market area this year was $131,550,930, compared to $132,430,010 in 2004.

Woodbine paid out a total of $83 million in purse money this year, up from $80 million last season. This year's figure does not include approximately $2.1 million in $400 supplements for starters who did not earn a piece of the regular purse in overnight races.

That bonus program was initiated this year in an effort to boost field sizes. This year's 1,516 races attracted a total of 12,906 starters, a decline of 13 races and 22 starters from 2004.

On the racetrack, apprentice jockey Emma Wilson finished as the meet's leading rider with 175 winners and purse earnings of almost $7.5 million.

Corey Fraser was next in races won with 136, and Patrick Husbands third with 118. Husbands was second in purse money, with almost $6.7 million. Todd Kabel was third with $6.6 million

Sid Attard ended as the meet's leading trainer in races won with 68 and was second in purses earned with $3.7 million. Bob Tiller was second in races won with 57 and Mark Casse third with 56.

Reade Baker was the leading trainer in money won, ending just shy of $4 million. Tiller was third with almost $3.2 million.

Sam-Son Farm was the meet's leading owner in money won, with $1.9 million. Melnyk Racing Stable was next with $1.8 million, followed by Stronach Stable with $1.7 million.

Melnyk Racing Stable led in races won with 37, with Stronach Stable the runner-up with 34 wins and Colebrook Farm third with 31.

Next year's 167-day meeting is scheduled to begin April 1.