07/15/2005 12:00AM

Returning soon: a 72-hour draw

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine will return to a 72-hour draw full-time, effective with the racing week beginning Aug. 10.

A Sunday-for-Wednesday draw had been reinstituted this spring, but all other cards were drawn on a 48-hour basis.

Chris Evans, Woodbine's vice president, Thoroughbred racing, said Friday that the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association had lobbied for a return to a regular 72-hour draw and management had acquiesced.

The main issue for the horsemen involved medication, particularly the bronchodilator clenbuterol, Evans said. The guideline for detection of clenbuterol is 72 hours following administration.

"With 48 hours, if a trainer hears the rundown and the race has only five or six horses, if you're training on clenbuterol you can't jump in and enter," Evans said.

He also noted there will be no scratch time, as was the case with 48-hour entries. Horses will enter to run, with scratches being made off the program on race day.

Woodbine had returned to drawing on a 48-hour basis at the beginning of 2004 after drawing 72 hours out with a 48-hour scratch time for a period of five years.

The change was made in the belief that the 48-hour draw would help increase field size, a perennial concern here.

The average field size was up slightly last year, to 8.6 horses per race, with part of the gain attributable to the fact that Fort Erie closed early to resurface its main track

This year, through Wednesday's card, the average field size stood at 8.54 as opposed to 8.41 at the same stage last year, a figure that Evans acknowledge is somewhat disappointing.