05/11/2002 12:00AM

Big A attendance, handle way up

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - The mild winter weather turned out to be a boon for Aqueduct, which enjoyed significant increases in attendance and handle for the recently concluded winter-spring meet.

Daily average attendance was 5,256, an increase of 11.8 percent over the 2001 average of 4,700. Daily average ontrack handle was up 8.7 percent to $1,574,086 from $1,447,690. Daily average commingled handle increased 8.4 percent to $9,236,441 from $8,519,174 a year ago.

"We are obviously extremely pleased with the surge in business at Aqueduct over the winter and spring," said Terry Meyocks, president and COO of the New York Racing Association, which operates Aqueduct. "The effects of the lowered takeout are obvious. It has reached the point where we have now returned an additional $29 million to horseplayers since July 25 of last year because of the lowered takeout rates."

Despite the fact the majority of Aqueduct's races were not taken in California, interstate wagering increased 10.5 percent to $4,954,104. The average in 2001 was $4,478,650.