08/03/2005 11:00PM

Belmont handle declines

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After a dismal Aqueduct meet, business-wise, things did not get much better for the New York Racing Association at Belmont Park, as attendance and handle suffered steep declines during the 60-day spring/summer meet that ended June 24.

Total average daily handle dropped 11.2 percent, from $12,521,951 at last year's 60-day meet to $11,120,068, while daily ontrack handle dropped 10.9 percent from $1,762,361 in 2004 to $1,570,838 this year. NYRA officials said the average field size was down by 0.6 of a runner from last year. A good part of that could be attributed to the institution of a race-day security barn, where horses needed to be housed six hours before their races.

Average daily attendance was down 15.2 percent, from 8,319 to 7,057. The bulk of that decline came on Belmont Stakes Day, when the crowd was 62,274, compared with 120,139 in 2004.

The poor figures at Belmont come after an Aqueduct meet that saw all-sources total daily average handle drop 10.4 percent while attendance dropped 18 percent.