04/09/2007 12:00AM

Turfway's overall handle dips


Average daily handle from all sources was down slightly at the winter-spring meet that ended Thursday at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., although average ontrack handle was up versus comparable figures from the 2006 meet.

The average handle on live Turfway races was $2,777,031, down 3.4 percent from 2006, but average ontrack handle of $147,050 was up 12.3 percent.

The gross handle of $166.6 million was down 16 percent, with the decline largely attributable to eight full or partial programs lost to cancellations. Turfway ran 60 full days at the meet, which started Jan. 1, versus 69 during the same time frame in 2006; accordingly, there were 10 percent fewer races run at the 2007 meet (624) than in 2006 (688).

A bitter stretch of winter weather led to the cancellations and to some controversy about Polytrack, the synthetic surface meant to be impervious to weather conditions. In September 2005, Turfway became the first of a growing number of North American tracks to employ Polytrack as its primary racing surface.

"Turfway has been the industry's living laboratory for Polytrack," said Turfway's president, Bob Elliston. "Every meet we run, we learn more about it, and that knowledge will benefit every track that installs it."

Purses averaged $150,649 daily, while the average field size dipped slightly from 8.3 starters to 8.1.

On the racetrack, Julien Leparoux won the jockey title despite frequently missing days to ride in California for his main client, Patrick Biancone. Leparoux rode two winners on the final night of racing to nip apprentice Alonso Quinonez by a 76-75 count. Ken and Sarah Ramsey were the leading owners with 10 wins, while Paul McGee led all trainers with 17 wins.