04/10/2006 12:00AM

Turfway's total handle soars

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Gross all-sources handle at the winter-spring meet that ended Thursday at Turfway Park was up 62 percent from corresponding 2005 figures, according to figures released by the Florence, Ky., track.

Turfway officials said the huge increase was largely attributable to the new Polytrack surface, which drew larger fields and led to no weather-related cancellations during the Jan. 1-April 6 meet. In 2005, before Polytrack, 11 full or partial cards were canceled.

Gross all-sources handle was more than $198.3 million, while gross ontrack handle was $9 million, up 19 percent. The daily all-sources average was up 22 percent. The daily ontrack average was down 10 percent, although per-race wagering - 688 races were run this year, versus 591 last year - was up nearly 3 percent. Gross purses were up 16.3 percent.

There was an average of 8.3 starters per race, up 1.2 percent from last year.

Admission to Turfway is free, so there are no attendance figures.

On the racetrack, apprentice Julien Leparoux rode 167 winners, a record for a winter-spring meet, and trainer Greg Foley sent out 30 winners for his third straight winter-spring title. Wayne Bearden was the leading owner with 15 wins.

Turfway officials noted that since the Polytrack surface opened for racing in September, horses have had only three catastrophic ontrack injuries, versus 24 for the same time frame of 2004-05.