12/02/2002 1:00AM

Hastings: Unplanned ending


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - It was lights out at Hastings Racecourse on Sunday night as the season came to a premature close when a bank of lights between the 1 1/8-mile chute and the three-eighths pole failed, causing the last three races of the final night of the meet to be canceled.

Although it was a disappointing end to the season, Hastings Entertainment Inc., which completed the purchase of Hastings Park in May, reported healthy increases in the total handle compared to 2001. Hastings Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of Woodbine Entertainment Group.

Although Hastings raced 77 days this year - down from 93 in 2001- the number of races run was higher, 782 compared to 760.

Total handle for the meet from all sources was $59.3 million, a 6 percent increase from the $56 million wagered in 2001. Daily average handle was up 28 percent to $770,683. Handle per race increased 3 percent to $75,886. Ontrack handle declined from $25.7 million in 2001 to $24.7 million this year.

Pedro Alvarado won his first Hastings riders title with 122 wins from 588 mounts; Nicola Wright was the leading apprentice with 101 wins. Harold Barroby topped the trainer standings for the 10th time with 50 wins.