07/23/2006 11:00PM

Handle drops from '05


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Lone Star Park experienced a decline in average daily handle on its races while attendance held constant during the 66-date meet that ended Sunday. Wagering on incoming simulcasts remained unchanged.

Lone Star handled an average $1.9 million a day on its races this meet, down 9.9 percent from the corresponding 67-day meet a year ago. Of that amount, an average of $443,000 a day was bet onsite on live races, a dip of 4.8 percent. From offtrack sources, Lone Star handled $1.5 million a day on its races, a decline of 11.4 percent.

Betting on Lone Star's live races during its spring Thoroughbred meet has been in decline since 2003. Officials at the track cited several factors for the decline at the meet.

"The out-of-state money, I think it was down severely in the beginning because our field size was down early on, and then it caught on," said Drew Shubeck, general manager of Lone Star. "I would say the last two or three weeks, the out-of-state has been acceptable. It's been either on, or close to, what we did last year."

Shubeck said weeknight handle was hurt by signal competition from tracks like Evangeline Downs, which recently added slot machines and boasts rich purses and large fields. Lone Star also faced competition for horses and wagering dollars from Louisiana Downs.

In addition to betting on its races, Lone Star handled another $612,000 a day on incoming simulcasts to bring its total daily handle to $2.6 million, down 7.9 percent from the Thoroughbred meet in 2005.

Attendance averaged 6,900 daily, compared with 7,000 in 2005.

Cliff Berry won 103 races at the meet to secure his second riding title and set a record for wins in a Lone Star season by a jockey. Corey Lanerie held the previous mark of 102, set in 1999. Berry's mounts earned a meet-best $1,783,815.

Steve Asmussen won his eighth Lone Star training title with 55 wins, despite beginning a suspension for a medication infraction two weeks before the meet closed. His stable earned a meet-best $1,336,751.

Sandy and Jerry Heflin were the leading owners, with 17 wins.