04/10/2007 12:00AM

Meet posts modest gainsP


Sam Houston closed out its 68-date Thoroughbred meet Saturday with increases in average daily attendance and handle compared with the corresponding 82-date meet a year ago. The track also reported an increase in field size.

Sam Houston handled an average of $1,839,853 a night on its races this meet, compared with $1,737,522 a year ago, an increase of 5.9 percent. Of the $1.8 million, an average $1,727,152 was bet on Sam Houston's races offtrack, with another $112,701 bet ontrack. Last season, handle on Sam Houston's live races averaged $1,630,461 a night offtrack, and $107,061 ontrack.

Attendance averaged 2,896 patrons this meet, compared with 2,851 last season, an increase of 1.5 percent. Purses averaged $120,520 this meet, compared with $97,538 last season. The average field size this meet was 8.75 horses, compared with 8.51 in 2006.

Sam Houston was particularly strong on nights it ran multiple stakes, and in January and February, said spokeswoman Martha Claussen.

"There were a lot of tracks that got snowed out, and people just turned their attention to us," she said.

Jockey Larry Taylor won his first Sam Houston title with 63 wins from 374 starts for mount earnings of $656,000. Danny Pish was the leading trainer for the second straight meet with 44 wins from 279 starts and stable earnings of $557,176. The leading owner was Bruno Schickedanz, with 14 wins from 40 starts and earnings of $62,772. The horse of the meet was Wrenice, who won three stakes.