12/10/2008 12:00AM

Woodbine handle down slightly from 2007

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine's total all-sources handle and average daily handle showed slight declines for its its 2008 live Thoroughbred meet, while the average handle per race remained steady compared with last year.

An all-sources total of $337,734,635 was wagered on live racing during the 167-day meet that ended this past Sunday, compared with the $343,059,524 recorded from the 169 dates offered in 2007, a 1.5 per cent overall drop.

This year's average daily handle of $2,022,363 was down 3.7 percent from last year's average of $2,029,938.

Handle per race (1,553 races in total) was $217,472 in 2008, compared with $215,489 (1,592 races in total) in 2007, a rise of 0.92 percent.

"In light of the handle dips we've seen during other Thoroughbred meets across the continent this year, we are pleased with the results," said Sean Pinsonneault, Woodbine's vice president of wagering operations.

Average field size at Woodbine held steady at 9.0 horses per race this year, the same as in 2007. The average field size for the 123 stakes races, according to Daily Racing Form statistics, was 7.89.

Overnight and stakes purses paid out in 2008 totaled $87.3 million, versus $84.7 million last year.

The Ontario Racing Commission's chief veterinarian, Greg Taylor, reported that 10 horses died on the racetrack from racing-related injuries and another two from pulmonary hemorrhaging. Woodbine reported two fatal breakdowns during the course of the races last year.

The 2009 Woodbine Thoroughbred meeting is scheduled for 167 dates, beginning April 4.

Jockey Patrick Husbands and trainer Mark Casse repeated atop their standings in both races won and money won this year.

Husbands led in races won with 166 and in money won with $9.4 million, while Casse's starters yielded 75 winners and purses of $5.6 million.

Jim McAleney, who had battled with Husbands down to the final day of the meeting, was second in races won with 162, while Emma-Jayne Wilson was third with 111.

Sid Attard was second among trainers in races won with 58 and Reade Baker third with 48.

Stronach Stable was the leading owner in money won with almost $2.3 million and in races won with 32. Tucci Stables was next in money with almost $2.1 million and Melnyk Racing Stable third with $1.6 million.

Sugar Bay scored in 6 of her 9 starts at the meeting to top all horses in races won.