07/03/2001 11:00PM

Daily handle at meet tops $10 million


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - As the 53-day Churchill Downs spring meet winds to a close on Sunday, some familiar business trends are surfacing again.

Ontrack attendance and handle are down, 3 and 7 percent, respectively. But all-sources wagering is up, by 5 percent, with the daily handle average just over $10 million. The off-track gains essentially offset the ontrack declines and allowed purse payments to remain on schedule.

Perennial jockey champion Pat Day long ago clinched another riding title, but the trainer and owner races figure to go down to the wire.

After eight races Wednesday, Bernie Flint held a 20-19 lead over Dale Romans in the trainer standings.

Among owners, Ken and Sarah Ramsey led, 13-10, over Ron McKee.

Flint stands a solid chance to further his cause, running Jordy Girl in the Friday feature, a $42,900 allowance at six furlongs. Eleven 3-year-old fillies are entered in the ninth of 10 races.

One other allowance (race eight) also is carded on the final twilight program of the year.

Two-year-old stakes races close out meet

Two-year-olds will be in the spotlight this weekend, in the two stakes that traditionally close out the spring meet.

The $100,000 Debutante Stakes on Saturday and the $125,000 Bashford Manor Stakes on Sunday both appear likely to attract small- to medium-sized fields.

In the Grade 3 Debutante, Colonial Glitter, an impressive maiden winner last month, could be a slight favorite with Day riding. Other probables for the 5 1/2-furlong race include Brown Eyed Beauty, Cashier's Dream, Twin Sails, War Dress, Yes Honey, You, and either half of the Flint-trained entry of Lakeside Cup and Typhoon Bertie.

In the closing-day feature, the Grade 2 Bashford Manor at six furlongs, the probables are Binyamin, Blue Burner, Mannymissedagain, Storm Passage, and Still Be Smokin'.

Leelanau, winner of the Kentucky Breeders' Cup in May, has been declared from the Bashford Manor because of tendinitis in his right foreleg. Also, trainer D. Wayne Lukas has said Jump Start, a sharp recent maiden winner by A.P. Indy, will not run.

Walden at loss over License Fee

Trainer Elliott Walden was still reeling Wednesday from the loss of License Fee, the standout mare who suffered a fatal breakdown in the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth last weekend.

"It's hard to say what exactly happened," said Walden. "There was no way of saving her."

License Fee, owned by WinStar Farm, won 16 of 43 starts and over $1.2 million. A 6-year-old Ontario-bred mare by Black Tie Affair, she was in perhaps the best form of her career, having won her three previous starts, all Grade 3 stakes.

Horse, namesake don't quite connect

Julian Logan "Buck" Wheat, a Churchill regular who is friends with noted Thoroughbred owner Mike Pegram, traveled to Hollywood Park last weekend to watch his namesake run.

Julian Logan, a colt trained by Bob Baffert, won the first race Sunday as the favorite but was unable to join Wheat in the winner's circle after apparently bowing a tendon while galloping out.

Man and horse went their separate ways afterward. Julian Logan was claimed by Mike Mitchell, and Wheat was back at Churchill on Wednesday.

* Three days after Churchill ends, live action shifts to the western part of the state, at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., where a 41-day meet begins Wednesday. The first stakes of the meet is on July 14, the $100,000 HBPA Handicap, a prep for the meet highlight, the $200,000 Gardenia Stakes.