12/09/2009 12:00AM

Woodbine's handle increases 7 percent


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine Entertainment Group has reported a 7 percent increase in handle for the 167-day live Thoroughbred meeting which concluded last Sunday.

All-sources handled totaled $361,435,208, compared to the $337,660,570 from the 167 dates in 2008. The daily average handle this year was $2,164,282.

"We are especially proud of the healthy wagering increase on our 2009 Thoroughbred meet, as the industry is seeing a drop in betting overall," said Sean Pinsonneault, Woodbine's vice president of wagering services, in a press release.

Most of the $23.7 million increase came from U.S. sources. TVG, the national racing channel, offered Woodbine racing for the first time beginning on June 19.

"We wanted to raise our profile in the United States through various strategies and it paid off for us with significant increased betting on our product," Pinsonneault said.

The average field size was 9.1 this year, an increase over last year's 9.0.

Overnight and stakes purses paid out in 2009 totaled $90.1 million, an average of $539,634 per card. Last year's total was $87.3 million.

Next year's 167-day meeting will begin on Good Friday, April 2.

Husbands, Casse lead standings

Jockey Patrick Husbands and trainer Mark Casse continued their domination on the racetrack with their third straight individual titles.

Husbands led all riders with 188 wins and purses of $10,827,171 while Casse topped his table in wins with 71 and purses with $4,804,929.

As a team, however, Husbands and Casse slipped to second place with 41 wins from 182 starts, compared to last year when they combined for 62 wins from 338 collaborations.

The leading jockey-trainer combo this season was Luis Contreras and Steve Asmussen, who was represented here by assistant Hank Gensler, with 49 victories.

Rounding out the top three riders in races won this year were Chantal Sutherland with 139 and Eurico Rosa da Silva with 123.

Sid Attard was the second-leading trainer in races won with 54 while Asmussen and Roger Attfield finished in a dead heat for third with 52.

Melnyk Racing Stable topped all owners here in both races won with 40 and earnings with $3,007,281.

Tucci Stable was second in races won with 25 and Bear Stable third with 24.

Juddmonte Farm ranked second in earnings with $2,360,133 and Sam-Son Farm third with $1,630,007.

Woodbine's ontrack veterinarians reported a total of 12 fatalities due to injuries suffered on the Polytrack surface, two more than last year. There were also two fatalities during turf races.