09/03/2007 12:00AM

Debut draws solid crowd


ERIE, Pa. - Patrons were 10 deep on the apron near the finish line Saturday night as Miss A Bomb nosed out Tres Dream in the first race of the Presque Isle Downs meet, the $100,000 Inaugural Stakes.

The meet is the first at Presque Isle, which is offering $500,000 a day in purse money from a purse account built up through slots revenue. On Saturday, $479,750 in purse money was distributed. A total of $126,204 was wagered ontrack for the eight-race card, with total all-sources handle of $594,241.

The track announced attendance at 15,737, but that included people who were in the slots casino. The racing crowd was estimated at 5,000 to 6,000 by Rose Mary Williams, corporate director of racing for MTR Gaming, the track's owner. MTR also owns Mountaineer Race Track in West Virginia.

"The parking lot was full to capacity," Williams said. "We had an excellent crowd. It was a great mixture of people, a lot of younger people, so that is great for racing."

Bettors said there were long lines at the mutuel windows, caused by the combination of some new mutuels employees and bettors unfamiliar with how to wager.

In the Inaugural, run over Presque Isle's Tapeta synthetic surface, jockey Miguel Mena had Miss A Bomb just behind the dueling leaders to the turn. When they came into the stretch, Mena took her to the inside and they took the lead in late stretch. Miss A Bomb was all out to hold off the late charge of Tres Dream. Unforgotten was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. Miss A Bomb returned $11.80 and ran the six furlongs in 1:11.34.

"It came down to a head bob, and we got it," said Grant Hofmans, the 37-year-old trainer of Miss A Bomb.

Mena, a 20-year-old native of Lima, Peru, won five races for five different trainers on the first two days of the meet, Saturday and Sunday.

Of the new Tapeta surface, Mena said: "The track is pretty good. I really like it, and I felt comfortable."