05/26/2005 11:00PM

California numbers decline

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Handle and attendance figures for all breeds of California racing fell 4 percent from Dec. 26, 2004, through May 6, 2005, according to figures released at Thursday's California Horse Racing Board meeting.

Track officials were quick to point out that the first two months of the year were plagued by rain, particularly in Southern California.

Handle on northern and Southern California Thoroughbred races, Quarter Horse racing, and harness racing was $1,542,838,615, a drop of $64,996,391. Handle on northern California Thoroughbred racing was down 1.7 percent, while handle on Southern California Thoroughbreds fell 3.8 percent.

Statewide Thoroughbred attendance was down 10 percent, to 2,839,237. Northern California Thoroughbred attendance fell 6.7 percent, while Southern California attendance was off 10.3 percent.

The attendance and handle figures did not take into account Kentucky Derby Day, May 7. Last year, the Derby was run on May 1. Handle from that program was part of the 2003-2004 figures.

Account wagering via telephone and the Internet rose 27 percent, to $159,604,152.

In other Thursday business, Fairplex Park was granted a request to restructure its racing season at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, dropping one day from an original allotment of 17 days.

Fairplex Park, which in past years had run 17 consecutive days, will eliminate racing on Tuesdays - Sept. 13 and 20 - and add a Monday, Sept. 26. The meeting opens on Sept. 9.