01/28/2004 12:00AM

Beulah enjoys booming business

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GROVE CITY, Ohio - Beulah Park has shown a 71 percent increase in total handle compared to last year's corresponding meeting through the first 13 days of the winter-spring meet.

Beulah's management decided to go with a five-day-per-week schedule in January this year as opposed to four days per week in 2003. The change allows the track to take advantage of the lack of other signals in the simulcast market during the winter months.

Total handle per day has averaged $1,101,914 in 2004 versus $642,539 in 2003. Ontrack handle has been essentially flat at the meet, with the increases coming from offtrack wagering. Twice already this year Beulah has set a record for total daily handle, most recently on Jan. 19 when $1,983,520 was wagered on the card.

Beulah Park general manager Mike Weiss expressed satisfaction with the numbers. "I'm very happy with the way things have gone so far. Our efforts to market Beulah's signal to additional sites have clearly paid off," he said.

No purse increases will be made in the near future, according to Weiss, who said the track had a $177,000 overpayment at the beginning of the meeting.

Large fields have been the rule thus far, contributing to the increase in handle. Monday was a notable exception when 29 horses scratched following a storm that dumped six inches of snow in central Ohio on Sunday, leaving a total of 65 starters on the nine-race card.

Monday's first post was delayed 20 minutes as a road grader bladed snow and several inches of the racing surface to the outside fence. The result was a rock hard track which produced fast times and may have contributed to several injuries.

Second-race winner Storm Walker was vanned off lame after the race. Peggy's Girl, who was a gate-to-wire winner in the fourth race, was visibly lame while walking off the track and onlookers reported the filly laid down in the test barn.

Trainer Jake Radosevich, who leads the standings here with 10 wins - double his nearest competitors - reported that Peggy's Girl was doing well on Tuesday and would return to the races.

Tuesday's nine-race program was canceled as the track thawed out and became uneven, the first cancellation of 2004.

In general, the racing surface here has drawn positive responses from horsemen since being resurfaced at a cost of more than $100,000 following the fall meeting in December.