Total Handle, Purses Increase at Woodbine Meet

Total handle and purses registered gains during the 167-day Woodbine meet that spanned April 16-Dec. 11.

All-sources handle on the live product at the Toronto, Ontario, racetrack was $364,436,580 Canadian, up 7.7% from $338,349,020 for 167 days in 2004. The average was $2.18 million. Last year's all-sources handle was down 2.6% from 2003.

Handle on the live product in the Toronto market, which includes off-track betting parlors, was $131,550,930, down slightly from $132,430,101 last year.

Woodbine paid $81.5 million Canadian in total purses, up 0.1% from $80.3 million in 2004. The average was $488,000 per day for overnight and stakes purses.

Woodbine has slot machines operated by the province of Ontario. Racing interests keep 20% of the revenue; 10% of that goes to the purse account and 10% to the track.

Field size dropped slightly from 8.6 last year to 8.5 this year.

"Wagering was good overall on the live Thoroughbred meet considering the softening in betting numbers late in the season," Sean Pinsonneault, vice president of wagering operations for Woodbine Entertainment Group, said in a release. "We were even over last year in the Toronto market, and although our U.S. export wagering was up, it was primarily due to being in the California market for the whole year."

Woodbine began offering common-pool wagering on racing from some U.S. tracks this year. The initial result was an increase in handle on some imported signals because patrons were able to wager into larger pools.