Higher Purses Boost Entire Woodbine Meet

The cash flowing through Woodbine's 1,700 slot machines since March helped the Toronto area track pay a remarkable 49.7% more in purses this year. A total of $75.1 million (Canadian dollars) in purses was paid compared to nearly $50.2 million in 1999.

As expected, the higher purses did good things for the rest of Woodbine's 160-day Thoroughbred meet, which closed Nov. 26. Field size increased 5.2% to an average of eight horses per race, and total wagering from all sources increased nearly 12% to $293,086,000. Average daily wagering climbed nearly 16% to $1,831,787. Attendance figures were not available because Woodbine does not charge for admission.

Horseplayers in the United States paid more attention to Woodbine this year. Among key on-track and off-track wagering statistics, the United States off-track handle grew the most. Americans bet $80.8 million on Woodbine races, or 44% more than the $56.8 million they wagered last year. In the Toronto area, telephone account increased to $9.7 million from $5.9 million in 1999.

Total wagering at Woodbine for the year, including live racing and simulcasting, is expected to reach $520 million, or 8% more than last year.