09/27/2006 11:00PM

Handle, attendance up on opening day


ARCADIA, Calif. - The Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting began on Wednesday with increases in attendance and handle over the corresponding day in 2005.

Wednesday's nine-race program drew an ontrack crowd of 14,008, a gain of 47 percent over last year's audience of 9,489. The crowd was boosted by a promotion of free admission, parking, and Daily Racing Forms for members of the track's frequent-customer program.

Wednesday's ontrack crowd bet $2,558,419, a gain of 20 percent over last year. The all-sources handle, including betting from simulcast locations, was $7,764,497, an increase of 11 percent from 2005.

The ontrack crowd was the highest for a weekday opening of an Oak Tree meeting since 1998. The 2003 Oak Tree meeting opened on a Sunday to a crowd of 20,317.

Sherwood Chillingworth, Oak Tree's executive vice-president, expected a crowd of 12,000.

He said the track "added more" to its marketing budget and placed an emphasis on the first few days of the meeting. Last year, the initial focus was on the opening weekend.

The Oak Tree meeting continues for five weeks, until Oct. 29. Typically the meeting includes a simulcast of the Breeders' Cup, but this year the meet will be over when the Breeders' Cup is run at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. The Hollywood Park fall meeting will be underway by then.

The absence of the Breeders' Cup simulcast will impact attendance and handle averages for the Oak Tree meeting, since the Breeders' Cup program draws a large crowd.

"It hurts us," Chilllingworth said. "Financially, it's a big hit. Next year, we'll have a six-week meeting and we'll cover that."

Cambiocorsa wins eighth straight

Cambiocorsa won her eighth consecutive race on the hillside turf course in Wednesday's $100,000 Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap on Wednesday, one of four winners on the card for trainer Doug O'Neill.

Cambiocorsa ($3) ran the about 6o1/2 furlongs in 1:12.02, drawing off in the stretch to win by 2o1/2 lengths under jockey Jon Court. Sandra's Rose finished second, three-quarters of a length in front of Bettarun Fast in the field of 11 fillies and mares.

The Grade 3 Maddy Handicap was Cambiocorsa's first start since she finished fifth in the Grade 3 CashCall Mile at Hollywood Park in July. The loss in the CashCall ended a seven-race winning streak for Cambiocorsa, which included six races on the hillside course here from November to April.

"She's unbelievable," O'Neill said. "I was worried about her coming into [this race]. I missed working her five furlongs a few weeks ago. She showed all of her class."

O'Neill said that Cambiocorsa had battled a bruised foot, but that her condition improved after training on Hollywood Park's new synthetic surface. "It's really helped our barn with foot issues," he said.

Owned by Ty and Lee Leatherman and Bob and Jan Naify, Cambiocorsa has won 9 of 15 starts and $500,055. Ty Leatherman said that the 4-year-old Cambiocorsa will be pointed for the California Cup Distaff on Oct. 28 and could be given the Hollywood Park fall meeting off in advance of a return to the hillside course during the winter.

"It's one of those things that if it's not broken, don't fix it," Leatherman said. "Every summer, we'll give her time off and run her down the hill."

O'Neill's stable also won the second race with the 2-year-old maiden Liquidity ($7.60), who was making his career debut; the third race for $12,500 claimers with Artaxman ($3); and the eighth race for maiden claimers with Star of Madraar ($6.60).

His four-win day equaled the record for most wins in a day by a trainer at the Oak Tree meeting, held by Bobby Frankel and Richard Mandella.

"We knew they were all kind of live," O'Neill said. "We liked Star of Madraar and we liked Liquidity."

Liquidity, purchased at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training for $260,000, is owned by Paul Reddam. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, who won three races on Wednesday, Liquidity finished six furlongs in 1:09.34, racing near the front throughout. He earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

O'Neill said that Liquidity could return in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 14.

"It's not out of our reach," O'Neill said. "This horse has been ready to run. We think it showed when he really needed it."

Healthy Addiction leads familiar cast

The $250,000 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sunday has drawn only a five-horse field.

The Grade 2 race, a prep to the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, is led by Healthy Addiction, the winner of the Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 6. The others in the race are Star Parade, Hollywood Story, Neuilly, and Downthedustyroad.