11/02/2001 1:00AM

Breeders' Cup handle slips


Total wagering for the eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships races on Saturday at Belmont Park was $98,711,413, Breeders' Cup officials said on Friday, slightly lower than wagering on last year's card.

It was the fourth time in Breeders' Cup history that handle had dipped, and the first time since 1995. Handle slipped 2.3 percent compared with last year's event at Churchill Downs, when all-sources wagering was a record $101,003,142.

Ken Kirchner, Breeders' Cup's director of simulcasting, said on Friday that he was "very pleased with the number, considering the differences from last year," referring to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and recent economic data indicating the country has slipped into a recession.

Ontrack wagering was a record for Belmont Park, where 52,987 attendees bet $13,087,813 on the

10-race card. The previous record, set on Belmont Stakes day this year, was $10,581,093.

Betting on the Breeders' Cup pick six declined for the third straight year, to $4,811,450. The past three years, Breeders' Cup has guaranteed the pick six pool at $5 million, but this year, the guarantee was reduced to $3 million when insurance companies declined to cover the bet.