04/22/2007 11:00PM

Handle tumbles 9.7 percent


Average daily all-sources handle for Gulfstream Park's races dropped by 9.7 percent this year compared with last year's meet, according to figures supplied by Gulfstream on Monday. Average all-sources wagering during the 88-day meet was $6,450,900, compared with $7,141,181 during last year's 88-day meet.

The meet, which ended Sunday, was the first the track has operated with slot machines.

In a partial explanation for the decline, the Gulfstream Park signal was blacked out from all of New York's offtrack betting outlets for the first two weeks of the meet. Also, Gulfstream canceled one race card this year after one race because of violent weather, and that card was included in handle calculations.

Average ontrack handle declined 3.3 percent, from $752,636 last year to $727,850 this year. Total ontrack handle this year was $64,050,850, and last year total ontrack handle was $65,479,366. Gulfstream does not record attendance figures.

In a release, Gulfstream president Bill Murphy said that a state law that required the track to remove ATM machines from the grounds because of the casino hurt ontrack handle. State law also limited check-cashing services at the track to third parties, which charge fees to perform the service.

Murphy said that the lack of ATMs and cheaper check-cashing services could have cost the track anywhere from $66 million to $132 million in ontrack handle.

Gulfstream officials have said they will lobby to have the restrictions lifted.

Average overnight daily purse distribution was $247,000, an increase of 17 percent. Horsemen receive 7.5 percent of the revenues from the slot machines at the tracks.

On the racetrack, Cornelio Velasquez took his first riding title, with 73 winners. Todd Pletcher won his fourth consecutive trainer title with 38 victories.