12/02/2002 1:00AM

Hoosier: Offtrack betting grows


ANDERSON, Ind. - Ontrack attendance and handle dipped slightly at Hoosier Park this season, while the track showed gains in the sale of its simulcast signal.

Average attendance slipped from 980 a year ago to 966 this year, while ontrack wagering on live races was $62,692 per day compared with $66,512 a year ago, a decline of 6 percent. The popularity of the track's signal to other states resulted in overall gains, with a nightly offtrack average of $1,157,555 this year compared to $1,095,682 last year, up 5.6 percent. The combined total (ontrack and offtrack) was $1,220,247 this year, up 5 percent over $1,162,194 a year ago.

Lester Knight won the Hoosier riding title with 84 wins and purse earnings of more than $1 million. Apprentice Rafael Bejarano was fourth in the overall standings but smashed Tommy Pompell's local apprentice record with 57 wins. Gary Patrick took the leading trainer title with 31 wins.

The 70-day meet was supposed to end Sunday but was cut short when a frozen racing surface forced the cancellation of Saturday night's card after the fourth race. Track management made the decision that same night to cancel Sunday's closing day program.