04/08/2009 12:00AM

Fair Grounds handle declines

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Handle on races at the Fair Grounds meet that ended March 29 fell across the board compared with 2007-2008, a season that also saw declines from the previous year.

Despite racing five more days this year than last year, Fair Grounds's total all-sources handle at the meet was down 6.1 percent, from $353,249,033 to $331,806,035, according to statistics supplied by the Louisiana State Racing Commission. Fair Grounds does not supply handle information as part of a policy instituted by the track's parent company, Churchill Downs Inc.

Average daily handle from all sources during the 86-day meeting in 2008-2009 meet was $3,858,209, down 11.5 percent from the $4,361,099 daily average in 2007-2008, according to the racing commission figures.

Average daily ontrack handle dipped from $225,048 last season to $197,201, a decline of 12.4 percent. A rainy Louisiana Derby day caused a drop in local betting on Fair Grounds's most important card, and probably contributed to the ontrack decline.

Handle fell most significantly in February and March this year compared with the 2007-2008 season. Fair Grounds moved its starting date back two weeks this season from its traditional Thanksgiving Day opening.