06/09/2009 11:00PM

Shippers help swell Presque Isle fields


Through May 31, field size at Presque Isle Downs was up from 6.29 last year to 8.03. The main reason for the increase is the number of horses shipping in, according to racing secretary Dave Frizzel.

"We are averaging 42 a night on an eight-race card," Frizzel said. "They are coming in from everywhere - Maryland, New York, Mountaineer, Philadelphia, and Kentucky. We had a big influx of horses from Kentucky after July 1 last year and I am expecting that to happen again, so our numbers will go up even more."

Frizzel said the new grooms quarters that are being built should be finished by the end of the month.

"Having to shuttle people back and forth from the hotels can be time consuming," he said. "I am sure it will be much easier for everyone when the dorms are finished."

Breakdowns at Presque Isle were among the lowest in the country last year as only four broke down from 5,677 starters. There has been only one breakdown since the current meet began May 8. Presque Isle has a Tapeta synthetic surface.

"I have been around racing my whole life and this is by far the safest surface I have ever seen," Frizzel said. "It is the kindest and most forgiving anywhere."

* Scott Spieth had a 19-15 lead over Harry Vega in the jockey standings through Tuesday. Joe Martin was the leading trainer with 10 wins.