The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and Equibase Company released the "Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators" for United States and Canadian pari-mutuel wagering on U.S. Thoroughbred racing during the first quarter of 2006, as well as for U.S. purses and race days, with prior-year, first-quarter comparisons. Despite fewer racing dates during the first quarter of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005, pari-mutuel handle increased 3.73% to $3,590,607,272 from $3,461,489,365 and aggregate purses rose 1.33% to $199,641,227 from $197,021,571 in year-over-year, first quarter comparisons. The number of race days declined 1.79% from 1,175 at this point last year to 1,154 this year."The first-quarter handle and purses statistics are very solid‹especially in light of the quarter's drop in racing dates," said NTRA Commissioner D.G. Van Clief, Jr. "It was also a quarter that saw an unraced two-year-old sell at auction for a record $16 million, so there are a number of reasons to feel encouraged as we head into the Spring and Summer months."