12/20/2005 12:00AM

Handle, attendance both down at fall meet


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Lacking a turf course that would have boosted the quality of racing and mutuel handle, Hollywood Park ended its 27-day fall meeting on Monday with declines in attendance and handle compared with the corresponding meeting in 2004.

On the track, jockey Martin Pedroza won his first riding title at a major track, while Jeff Mullins led the trainer standings.

The track did not run races on turf after the course failed to take root after being resodded during the summer. Four Wednesdays were canceled, and the meeting was reduced from its original allotment of 31 days to 27 days.

According to a statement released by the track, the average ontrack attendance slumped by 14.5 percent, to 5,199.

The average all-sources handle fell 4 percent, to $8,588,871, the statement said. The ontrack average handle was down a fraction of a percent, to $1,309,921, while the out-of-state handle was down 6.1 percent, to $3,520,084. Handle at California's intertrack sites averaged $3,305,319.

The track ran nine fewer days this year than in 2004. Average daily purses for the meeting were $333,835, a decline of 4.5 percent.

The meet was the first at Hollywood under the ownership of the Bay Meadows Land Co., which bought the track from Churchill Downs Inc.

Pedroza won 31 races, five more than his rival and friend Patrick Valenzuela.

Pedroza led the standings for most of the meeting and faced a late challenge from Valenzuela before clinching the title with wins in two of the first four races on Monday.

Pedroza walked out of the jockeys' room before Monday's fifth race sporting a huge grin. He had clinched the title in the previous race aboard the longshot Young Luck.

"I can relax now," he said. "I guess I was anxious on what the outcome will be."

Pedroza is best known as the all-time leading rider at the Fairplex Park meeting. He finished second at this fall's Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita.

Mullins led all trainers with 13 wins, scoring his third training title at Hollywood Park.

Owner Bob Bone, one of Mullins's principal clients, finished the meet with 14 wins. He was the leading owner by wins at all six meetings in Southern California in 2005, an unprecedented sweep.