09/27/2006 12:00AM

Bad weather hurts short meet's handle


Hampered by nasty weather, Kentucky Downs incurred notable decreases in business at the abbreviated meet that ended Tuesday in Franklin, Ky.

With its premier event, the Kentucky Cup turf series, having to be postponed twice because of heavy rain, and with the loss of one of its six scheduled programs, the all-sources handle at Kentucky Downs was down 7 percent from last year, when one more race was run. The 2006 meet handled $8,533,226 on 34 races.

Kentucky Downs general manager Ryan Driscoll said much of the decline was directly attributable to having to postpone the Kentucky Cup turf card from Saturday to Monday, and then, finally, to Tuesday.

"Obviously that hurt us in a big way," said Driscoll.

The move from Saturday to Tuesday led to a 42 percent decline in handle on the four Kentucky Cup Day stakes compared to 2005, including a 48 percent decline on the biggest race, the $200,000 Kentucky Cup Turf. The four-race series' handle this year was just $816,961, including $293,149 on the Turf.

Larry Melancon, who rode Embossed to a 34-1 upset in the KC Turf, was the leading rider with five wins - the first time in his 35-year career that Melancon, 51, was the leading jockey at any meet. Eric Reed was the leading trainer with four wins.