12/13/2006 12:00AM

Woodbine handle up near end


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Total daily average handle on live racing for the 162-day Woodbine meeting that ended Sunday was $2,058,577, compared with $2,222,174 for last year's 164-day meeting, a decline of 7.3 percent.

Total all-sources handle for the meet was $333,489,534, a decline of 8.57 percent from last year. The per-race handle for 1,494 races this year was $223,219.

A total of $81.4 million in purses was paid out, down slightly from $82.7 million last year.

Dirt racing was conducted over the converted inner Standardbred track from July 8 through Aug. 27 while Woodbine's new synthetic Polytrack surface was being installed.

Both handle and field size were up compared with the corresponding period in 2005 following the installation of Polytrack. The total handle from Aug. 30 through Dec. 10, 64 race days, was $157,445,000, an increase of 4.2 percent from last year's $151,152,000 over the same time span.

"We had a slow start to the year, but after Polytrack was installed we really noticed an improvement in our key numbers like handle and field size," said Sean Pinsonneault, Woodbine Entertainment's vice president of wagering services.

The average field size from Aug. 30 through Dec. 10 was 9.2, compared with 8.2 for the 29 days when racing was conducted on the inner track and 8.1 for the first 58 days of the meeting on the old main track, which began April 1.

The average field size over the entire meeting was 8.6.

On the racetrack, both jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson and trainer Sid Attard repeat as the leaders in races won for their respective categories.

Wilson won 144 races, while Patrick Husbands was the runner-up with 124 and Jim McAleney third with 113 winners.

Husbands topped the money-won category with $7.18 million. Wilson was second with $7 million, and Todd Kabel third with $6.8 million.

Attard sent out 78 winners, edging Reade Baker in a race that went down to the final card of the meeting. Baker finished with 76 winners, while Mark Casse was third with 67.

The top three reversed those positions when in came to money won. Casse's entrants earned $4.35 million, Baker's $4.17 million, and Attard's $3.48 million.

Sam-Son Farm was the leading owner in money won with $2.3 million and third in races won with 27. Stronach Stable stood second in earnings with $1.84 million and first in winners with 29.

Tucci Stable finished second in races won with 28, with Melnyk Racing Stable third in earnings at $1.54 million.