09/11/2007 11:00PM

Marquis Downs sees handle rise

EmailWith Sin Toro's seven-length victory over Mischeviousfighter in the Saskatchewan Derby in Saturday's final race of the Marquis Downs meet, another Thoroughbred meet wrapped up in Saskatoon.

The track's racing manager, Rick Fior, said that the ontrack handle (the track's sole source of wagering) for the 29-day meet was approximately $850,000, for a daily average of $29,300, up 4.3 percent from 2006's $28,100 per day. No attendance figures are kept.

The average number of starters per race was 8.1, up from 8 in 2006. Since an average of just 6.3 per race in 2002, this year was the fifth consecutive meet at which the average field size has increased from the previous year.

Both the trainer and jockey titles were decided weeks ago, as Russell Gardipy and Tim Moccasin ran away in their fields. Gardipy saddled 31 winners from 88 starters - finishing in the top three with three-quarters of his runners - to finish 16 wins ahead of second-place Judy Hunter. Moccasin's 48 riding victories from 202 starts were 20 more than runer-up Niam Samaroo.

Mischeviousfighter's lone defeat from his four local starts was in the Derby but, combined with three stakes victories, he earned $21,600 to top all horses in that category. A trio of horses - Standoff, On Manoeuvres, and Jazzy Express - all won five races for their connections. Standoff was the only other horse to win three stakes events.

Fior has also reported that Prairieland Park, the non-profit operators of Marquis Downs, have applied for a $13.3 million grant from the province to renovate the barn area and add on to the grandstand. In the absence of slot-machine revenue, negotiations continue between the provincial government and the various interested parties in an attempt to increase purses for forthcoming meets.