03/04/2008 1:00AM

Handle up on Big Cap program


ARCADIA, Calif. - Despite fewer people at the track and a drop in ontrack handle, total all-sources handle on Saturday's 11-race Santa Anita Handicap program increased slightly compared to last year.

The ontrack attendance on a cool and drizzly day was 41,377, a decline of 3.8 percent from the 43,024 that attended the 2007 program. The ontrack handle of $4,880,864 was down 16.8 percent from the 2007 figure of $5,864,253.

"So many people left when it started raining," track president Ron Charles said. "It was so gratifying to have more than 41,000 show up on a drizzly and miserable day."

The all-sources handle, including offtrack sites and telephone and Internet sources, was more than $25.7 million, an increase of about half of a percent over 2007, Charles said.

"From our standpoint, it was a tremendous success," he said.

The handle figures were hurt by a late scratch prior to the last race. After the field was loaded, Lotacat, the 7-2 favorite, was scratched because of an incident at the gate. Since it was nearly dark, bettors were allowed little time to get refunds and place additional bets.

The $1 Super High Five, a new wager that requires bettors to correctly select the first five finishers in order, was particularly hard hit. Before Lotacat was scratched, the pool was $111,608, according to a figure posted on the toteboard. After the scratch, the final pool plummeted to $30,383, the lowest since the bet was initiated on Dec. 26. All tickets using Lotacat were refunded.

"Because it was getting dark, there was no option but to run the race," Charles said. "It's a risk you take."

Charles said refunds from all pools in the final race were approximately $520,000.

The final race was won by Wine on the Porch ($9.80), the second choice in the betting, a result that led to a single winning pick-six ticket, which was worth $645,097.20. The ticket cost $756 and was purchased in Las Vegas, according to track publicity.