11/17/2005 12:00AM

BC Day gives Belmont a lift


The Breeders' Cup's eight championship races sent handle and attendance figures soaring for the Belmont Park fall meet that ended Oct. 30.

When the Breeders' Cup numbers are excluded, the figures show a slight uptick in average daily handle from last year. In totals released Thursday, the average handle on Belmont from all sources was $9,577,751, an increase of 0.2 percent.

Gross handle from all sources increased by more than $29 million due to three additional racing days this year aside from the Breeders' Cup.

Ontrack handle at Belmont dropped 12.7 percent to average $920,917.

"That reflects a very rainy October," said senior vice president Bill Nader. "We got very little use of the turf course and had to go with nine races on some weekends instead of 10. We were doing fine in September until we hit the wet weather in October."

The loss of grass racing was reflected in average field size. Not including the Breeders' Cup, that figure declined to 7.91 from 8.15 in 2004.

Gross handle from all sources increased 31.6 percent with the Breeders' Cup factored in, and ontrack handle improved 22.6 percent. The Breeders' Cup program attracted a crowd of 54,289, which pushed average attendance for the meet up 16 percent to 6,004.