09/15/2016 2:13PM

Handle up sharply at Emerald Downs meet

Reed & Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs
O B Harbor won three stakes at the Emerald meet.

Good weather and larger fields contributed to the average daily handle at the recently concluded Emerald Downs meet increasing by 16.8 percent over 2015.

The daily all-sources live handle average for the 70-day meet was $975,434, up from $835,037. The total handle for the meet was $68,280,380. Ontrack figures were not released by Emerald.

The average field size of 7.43 horses was up considerably from 6.86 in 2015.

Along with great weather, track conditions contributed to the strong gains. A press release from Emerald said there was sunshine for 51 of the 70 days, and that it rained during portions of just five days.

“We had some of the best spring and summer weather in the country,” said Vince Bruun, director of media relations. “We had a fast track all but one day this entire season.”

Attendance was strong, with the largest crowd in the past five years, 13,328, coming out to watch the races and the traditional fireworks show on July 3.

Jockey Rocco Bowen was the leading rider with 110 wins, well clear of Leslie Mawing, who finished second in the standings with 70.

The trainers’ race came down to the last day of the meet, with Blaine Wright winning two races on closing day to capture his first title. Wright won 39 races, with Frank Lucarelli and Jeff Metz tying for second with 37.

O B Harbor was voted the meeting’s top horse. Trained by Chris Stenslie, O B Harbor used his substantial speed to win four races, including three stakes. After setting a fast pace in the signature race at Emerald in the Grade 3, $200,000 Longacres Mile, he finished third. The winner, Point Piper, set a track record of 1:32.90. Point Piper gave trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Mario Gutierrez their second win in the Mile. Hollendorfer also trains the runner-up, Cyrus Alexander.