09/08/2004 12:00AM

Ellis average numbers down


The 54-day meet that ended Monday at Ellis Park showed sizable across-the-board decreases in business, declines attributable to running a six-day race week rather than the usual five-day week.

Gross handle and attendance were up over 2003, but only because there were 13 fewer racing dates last year. The average daily handle from all sources was $3,053,213, down nearly 18 percent from last year, while the average ontrack handle was $273,545, down 22 percent. Average attendance was 2,540, down nearly 16 percent.

The average field size was 8.0, down from 9.1 last year, and daily purses were $158,730, down almost 15 percent from 2003.

Steve Sexton, president of Kentucky racing operations for Churchill Downs Inc., which owns Ellis, said the 2005 meet at the Henderson, Ky., track would return to five-day weeks.

On the racetrack, Rafael Bejarano easily won the jockey title for the second straight year, winning 85 races, 38 more than his nearest competitor, while Barbara McBride and Bobby Barnett tied for leading trainer with 13 wins each.