Woodbine Handle Slips, but Officials Optimistic

(from Woodbine report)
Woodbine's all-source handle fell 8.6% in 2006, but a rebound in wagering and field size after installation of an all-weather main track has officials for the Woodbine Entertainment Group looking forward to next year.

An "all-sources" total of $333,489,534 was wagered during the 162-day meet, which began April 1 and ended Dec. 10, compared to the $364,750,930 recorded in 2005.

"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. "We have some momentum going into 2007."

Woodbine became the first track in Canada and second in North America to install Polytrack, a synthetic racing surface which provides a soft cushion for horse and rider. Racing over Polytrack was presented for the first time on Aug. 30.

To accommodate the conversion of the main track to Polytrack, Thoroughbred racing was conducted over a dirt-covered Standardbred racing oval for 29 dates, from July 8 to Aug. 27.

Total handle after the Polytrack installation was a strong $157,445,000, compared to $151,152,000 in 2005, an increase of 4.2%.

Average field size at Woodbine was 8.6 horses per race this year, up from 8.5 in 2005.

During the Polytrack portion of the meet, 9.2 horses were carded per race, compared to 8.5 last year, an increase of 8.2%.

Overnight and stakes purses paid out in 2006 totaled $81.4 million versus $82.7 million paid last year.