07/15/2007 11:00PM

All-sources handle hits record average


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Hollywood Park concluded its 63-day spring-summer meeting on Sunday with a record all-sources average handle of $11,335,575 and growth in ontrack average attendance and handle, according to figures released by the racetrack.

The all-sources average handle improved 8.9 percent over 2006, and beat the previous record of $11.1 million set in 2002.

Average ontrack attendance reached 6,443, a gain of 4.8 percent, while average ontrack handle reached $1,697,597, a gain of 1.3 percent. Account wagering reached a record $1,200,117 per day, an increase of 27.1 percent.

"I'm pleased with the effort because we were up in ontrack average attendance and ontrack average handle," said track president Jack Liebau.

Average daily purse distribution rose to $448,909, an increase of approximately $30,000 over last year.

"We had a lot more quality races," said racing secretary Martin Panza. "We had a lot more allowance races and maiden races."

Average field size in main-track races increased to 8.40 horses, from 8.05 in 2006. The spring-summer meeting was the first run over a synthetic track. With turf racing included, field size averaged 8.10 horses, the same as the 2006 meeting.

There were disappointments in attendance on two major days. The track drew a crowd of 9,276 for the Hollywood Gold Cup program on June 30 and 9,244 for the American Oaks program on July 7. The CashCall Mile program on a Friday evening, July 6, drew a better audience of 14,683.

"I realize we have things to work on," Liebau said. "We've done other things that have been successful. What other track in Southern California has come up with two innovative races? I think that should be applauded. We've tried to do the best we can."

Liebau was referring to the development of the American Oaks and CashCall Mile in recent years. He said there are preliminary discussions to run the $1 million CashCall Mile on a Friday night in 2008 and run the American Oaks on a Sunday on the same weekend.

Michael Baze, 20, became the youngest jockey to win a riding title at Hollywood since an 18-year-old Bill Shoemaker accomplished that feat in 1950. Baze won 73 races, five more than apprentice jockey Joe Talamo, 17.

It was the first riding title for Baze, who was challenged by Talamo until the final weekend.

"I tried not to worry" about Talamo, Baze said. "Thank God, I did it. This is awesome."

Jeff Mullins and Doug O'Neill finished in a tie for the trainers title with 26 wins each. Mullins trailed O'Neill by eight wins through July 5 and had an excellent final two weeks.

O'Neill's stable was winless following Lava Man's third consecutive victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30. Lava Man was named horse of the meeting.