11/05/2007 1:00AM

Live handle sees sharp decline

EmailVANCOUVER, British Columbia - The live mutuel handle was down significantly at the 2007 Hastings meet that concluded Sunday.

Total live handle from all sources was $49,724,506, which represents a 26.7 percent decline over last year's total of $67,916,866.

The daily average live handle of $731,242 was down 16 percent from $870,729 in 2006.

Ontrack live handle was down 22.5 percent. Total ontrack handle was $17,893,206, compared with $23,084,280 in 2006.

Part of the decrease can be attributed to 10 fewer racing days this year. Also affecting the live handle, local patrons are now able to bet directly into the pools in most jurisdictions in the United States.

According to management at Hastings, the total handle, which includes simulcast wagering, is up roughly 4 percent in the province.

Despite the decrease in live handle, Hastings announced a 25 percent purse increase for the 2008 season, which begins April 26 and concludes Nov. 2.

Leading rider at the meet was Mario Gutierrez with 134 wins. Fernando Perez was the leading apprentice with 33 wins.

Troy Taylor was the leading trainer for the second time in his career with 46 wins, four more than runner-up Toni Cloutier. Taylor, 75, was also the leading trainer in 1963.