04/22/2002 12:00AM

Handle up, attendance down


ARCADIA, Calif. - Santa Anita ended its winter-spring meeting on Sunday with a rise in mutuel handle but a drop in on-track attendance.

The 85-day meeting had an average overall handle of $12,050,726, a gain of 9 percent. The most significant gain came through nationwide handle, which rose 13 percent to $5,024,307. There were smaller gains in on-track handle and betting throughout the state.

It was the first meeting with telephone and Internet betting, which were approved in late January. Official figures were not available on Sunday, but track officials estimate that $10.5 million was bet through those sources.

Attendance figures were not as strong as last year's meet, despite near-perfect weather. The average on-track attendance was 9,930, a drop of 5 percent. Run in drought-like conditions, the meet had only three days with an off-track.

Came Home, the winner of three stakes, including the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, was voted Horse of the Meeting.

Bob Baffert won his sixth consecutive training title at the winter-spring meeting with 43 victories, 11 more than Bill Spawr. Bobby Frankel led all trainers with 13 stakes wins.

Alex Solis led the jockey standings with 76 winners, six more than runner-up Kent Desormeaux. Laffit Pincay Jr., was third with 66 winners.