11/02/2001 1:00AM

Big gains at Belmont meet


ELMONT, N.Y. - Sparked by the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Belmont enjoyed significant increases in ontrack attendance and handle for its recently concluded fall meeting. Total handle also jumped considerably.

Buoyed by a Breeders' Cup Day crowd of 52,987, daily average attendance increased 16.4 percent to 7,618 from 6,545 for the 33-day fall meet of 2000. Daily average ontrack handle was up 24.4 percent from $1,695,837 to $2,109,472. Daily average total commingled handle was $13,410,375, a 28 percent leap from 2000 when it was $10,474,022.

The bulk of the increases could be attributed to an on-track handle of $13,087,813 and a total commingled handle of $98,835,163 on Breeders' Cup Day, Oct. 27. The on-track and total commingled handle were single-day records for Belmont Park.

"I am grateful to the efforts of our staff and employees, and the outstanding work of NTRA-Breeders' Cup and the cooperation of the owners, trainers, and jockeys who all worked together to ensure a very successful Breeders' Cup Day here at Belmont," said NYRA president and chief operating officer Terry Meyocks. Meyocks noted that heading into Breeders' Cup week, Belmont showed more modest increases of 2.7 percent in attendance and 2.3 percent in handle. Belmont canceled five days of racing after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

"It has been a very traumatic and trying time in New York, and we are fortunate that business held up during this time period," Meyocks said.