10/30/2003 12:00AM

Breeders' Cup ratings down

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The NBC television broadcast of the Breeders' Cup on Saturday received a 1.8 national rating, 10 percent lower than last year's 2.0, according to figures released by the network Thursday. Share for the five-hour live broadcast was a 5, identical with last year.

Kathy Connors, a spokeswoman for NBC Sports, said the network was pleased with the rating "considering the tough competition" from college football games. The games included rivalries such as Notre Dame against Boston College and Purdue against Michigan.

Connors also said that the promotion of the event suffered somewhat from the "absence of good horses." Top handicap horses Mineshaft and Candy Ride skipped the Breeders' Cup, along with 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri and several well-regarded 2-year-olds.

Each rating point this year equals 1,084,000 households.