03/30/2007 12:00AM

Field size expected to rise this year


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Field size fuels wagering, which of course helps to boost the bottom line for racetracks and horsemen.

So, it's no surprise that field size has been an ongoing priority for the Woodbine Entertainment Group, and with the installation of Polytrack here last year the outlook is brighter on that front.

In the first two days of the 2007 meeting, 175 horses were entered for the total of 20 races on Saturday and Sunday, an average field size of 8.75 horses per race.

Steve Lym, Woodbine's racing secretary, believes an average field size of nine horses per race this year is a realistic goal.

"I'm pretty sure we're going to be at nine or better for the year, which we've never done before," said Lym.

Last year's average field size was 8.6 horses, up from 8.5 in 2005. However, during the Polytrack period from Aug. 30 through Dec. 10, the field size was a solid 9.2, compared to 8.5 during the corresponding time in 2005.

"We were down almost a whole horse [per field] until we had the main track switch over to the Polytrack," said Lym.

"That was due to a couple things," he added. "We had a really bad virus go through the backstretch in the spring. Our numbers held their own while we raced over the inner track in the summer, and it went up more than a whole horse when the Polytrack opened, which was a pretty big move."

Husbands, Montpellier riding for now

Patrick Husbands and Constant Montpellier, who both appealed lengthy suspensions for their altercation in the jockeys' room, which spilled onto the track, following a race here last Nov. 11, will ride to start the season but are scheduled to appear before the Ontario Racing Commission this month.

Husbands, who was suspended 60 calendar days, will have his appeal heard on April 11. Montpellier, who was handed a 150-day ban, is scheduled to appear at the nearby ORC courtroom on April 16 and April 17.

Gary Kemplen has taken over as the agent for Husbands, who was the second-leading rider here in races won with 124 and led in money won with more than $7.1 million.

Don Campbell dies at 61

Don Campbell, a longtime trainer here at Woodbine, died at age 61 in Florida last Monday night following a long battle with cancer.

Campbell was a son of Duke Campbell, a trainer who was inducted in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1984.

Don Campbell's accomplishments included sending out the winners of two of the three races that make up the Canadian triple crown. Mass Rally won the Prince of Wales in 1979 at Fort Erie for him, and Social Wizard won the Breeders' at Woodbine in 1981.

Other major stakes winners trained by Don Campbell were Gallant Mel, Hope for a Breeze, One More Breeze, Noble Martha, and Lindjean.

A memorial service will be held at Woodbine, the date to be announced.

'Woodbine Racing Live' airs Sunday

The first 2007 Thoroughbred installment of "Woodbine Racing Live" will air on The Score television network on Sunday, from 1 p.m. through 6 p.m. Eastern.

The Score Sunday telecasts this season will incorporate one-hour special coverage of the Woodbine Oaks on June 10; the Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf on July 22; the Breeders' Stakes on Aug. 5; the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 16; and the Canadian International and E.P. Taylor Stakes on Oct. 21.

The Queen's Plate will air for the second time this year on TSN, in a one-hour show scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on June 24.

Awards dinner set

The Ontario division of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society will hold its annual awards dinner on June 15 at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel.

The CTHS awards honor the outstanding breeders of Ontario-bred winners in 2006.

Highlights include presentations for breeder of the year, leading owner, top stallions, and top freshman sire. For tickets or information call the CTHS at 416-675-3602