10/28/2007 11:00PM

Keeneland handle close to record

EmailAll-sources wagering nearly matched the record established last fall at Keeneland Race Course, where the all-time high for ontrack attendance at a fall meet was set at a 17-day stand that ended Saturday at the Lexington, Ky., track.

All-sources wagering, which includes ontrack wagering on simulcast imports, grossed more than $139.8 million, falling just short of the $140.5 million that was wagered at the 17-day fall meet in 2006, a decrease of less than 0.5 percent. The daily average was slightly more than $8.2 million per card.

Total ontrack attendance was 239,296, the most ever at a fall meet and the second-highest to the record of 244,145 set during the 2006 spring meet. Daily average attendance was 14,076, an increase of 2.6 percent over last fall. Ontrack handle, including simulcasts, was nearly $27.4 million, third-highest for a fall meet.

Per-day purses averaged $627,640, down less than 1 percent from last fall, when the average was $632,961. Field size averaged slightly more than 10 starters per race.

Keeneland president Nick Nicholson said in a release that he was extremely pleased with business at the meet, saying it was "very strong throughout, and it speaks well for our horsemen and our fans."

While crowds on two Saturdays, Oct. 13 and 20, were down from previous years, partly because of conflicts with University of Kentucky home football games, weekday attendance throughout the meet more than overcame those declines.

"Despite unusually hot fall weather and smaller Saturday crowds, our fans responded enthusiastically to our efforts to promote weekday racing," said Nicholson.

A single-day record for a fall program was set when $14.1 million was bet from all sources on the Oct. 6 program.

On the racetrack, Rafael Bejarano was the leading rider for the third time at a Keeneland fall meet. Bejarano rode 21 winners, six more than Julien Leparoux, the 2006 fall champion. Bejarano also won the 2004 and 2005 fall titles.

The leading trainer was Bill Mott, with nine wins, while the leading owner title was split between Overbrook Farm and Ken and Sarah Ramsey with six wins each.