10/30/2008 12:00AM

Fort Erie handle down in comparison with '07 meet

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - Total handle from all sources on the live Fort Erie meet this year, with its 80 live racing days used in a direct comparison with the corresponding number in the 84-date 2007 season, dropped 9 percent from just under approximately $71.5 million to slightly over $65 million.

Overall, the average daily handle was off $80,869 per day, a corresponding 9 percent drop.

The average daily ontrack handle declined from $81,148 to $67,757, down 16.5 percent.

Offtrack handle on Fort Erie races averaged $745,547, down 8.3 percent from last year's $813,026.

Purse distribution was up from last year, as an increase from $8.7 million to $9.4 million gave horsemen an additional $680,740 in 2008, a 7.8 percent increase.

Other statistics of interest included an identical number of average runners per race in both seasons, 7.8 percent. The number of races run dropped from 745 to 725 in 2008 and total number of runners dropped from 5,799 to 5,642, down 2.7 percent.

On the racetrack, Chad Beckon and Mike Newell took home the jockey and trainer titles.

Beckon, who led the jockey field throughout the year, finished with 85 wins, five in front of runner-up Rui Pimentel. Rounding out the top three was David Garcia, who brought home 64 winners.

Newell had 36 wins, while Nick Gonzalez and Lyle Morden followed with 30 and 29 wins, respectively.

* Fort Erie has not yet applied for racing dates in 2009.