07/27/2009 12:00AM

Handle, attendance fall at Lone Star meet


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Lone Star Park reported declines in average daily attendance and handle during its 65-date meet that closed Sunday.

Handle on Lone Star's races from all sources averaged $1,429,959 a day, down 12 percent from 2008. Attendance averaged 6,883 patrons a program, down 7 percent. The ontrack crowd accounted for an average $320,709 a day in handle on Lone Star's races, down 20 percent from a year ago. Offtrack, patrons wagered an average $1,109,250 a day on the live card, off 9 percent from 2008.

"The biggest reason for the decreases in both attendance and handle is the global economic downturn that has negatively impacted the local Dallas-Fort Worth economy," said Drew Shubeck, president of Lone Star. "Our racing fans didn't come out as often and wagered less money when they were here.

"In addition, two major challenges to racing at Lone Star Park, the purse structure and a lack of a level playing field, continue to have a significant negative impact on our business. Higher purses in the surrounding states continue to draw horsemen and their better horses out of Texas, which impairs our quality of racing. As well, illegal Internet wagering platforms are coming into our market, attracting wagering dollars resulting in a reduction in the percentage of contributions to our purses and reducing our live ontrack attendance."

Purses averaged $169,623 a day this meet, compared to the average $172,795 a day paid out in 2008. The field size was 8.7 this meet, compared to last year's 9.1.

Steve Asmussen won his 11th Lone Star title and set a record for trainer wins in a season, with 117. The mark surpassed the 2003 record set by Cole Norman, when he won 98 races. Asmussen's stable made 411 starts and earned $2,015,154.

Chris Landeros won his first Lone Star jockey title with 97 wins. He had 425 mounts, and they earned $1,456,877. Cliff Berry lead all riders in mount earnings, with $1,570,421.

Tom Durant was the leading owner with 26 wins from 90 starts, and his stable earned $454,577. It was the fifth title for Durant.

Jonesboro, who became a millionaire with his win in the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile, was voted horse of the meet.