01/04/2010 12:00AM

Gulfstream opener handle drops

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All-sources handle on the opening-day program Sunday at Gulfstream Park was down substantially from last year's opening day, which came on a Saturday.

The opening-day handle at the Hallandale Beach, Fla., track was about $6.5 million, a 37 percent drop from $10.4 million for opening day of 2009. Several factors contributed to the decline, including the ongoing contractual stalemate between TrackNet, which is co-owned by the parent company of Gulfstream Park, and a consortium of 17 Mid-Atlantic racetracks and their simulcast sites that has prevented many bettors from being able to wager on Gulfstream's races.

Also, one of the nine races Sunday was declared "no contest" because of a malfunction involving the starting gate. More than $730,000 in wagers were refunded.

Gulfstream estimated the Sunday ontrack attendance at 9,100, versus 14,000 for last year. The track's president, Ken Dunn, said the highest Sunday attendance for 2009 was about 5,100. Gulfstream does not charge admission.