07/27/2008 11:00PM

Lone Star attendance rises but handle declines

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Lone Star Park reported a small decline in average daily handle on its live races during its 65-day meet that closed Sunday, but its largest-ever increase in average daily attendance.

The track handled an average of $1,629,698 a day on its races from all sources, a dip of 2.3 percent from the average of $1,667,453 during the corresponding 67-day meet in 2007. Daily attendance averaged 7,460, up 5.2 percent from 7,091.

The attendance spike was the largest in the track's 12-year history, trumping the previous-best gain of 1.5 percent in 2002.

"We definitely attribute that to big-event days, Triple Crown days, concerts, Fourth of July, really all the mainstay-type of activities that have been run here at Lone Star since the beginning," said Drew Shubeck, president and general manager of Lone Star. "They all continue to be strong."

Shubeck said a number of factors affected handle. An average of $1,224,206 a day was handled offtrack on its live races, a dip of 1.6 percent. Another $405,492 a day was bet on Lone Star's races ontrack, down 4.2 percent.

Shubeck pointed out that Lone Star's races were not available on any account-wagering platform, and that the track didn't send its signal to Florida for about half the meet because of a contract dispute between Calder and the horsemen there.

"The minor disappointment that we're still going through is the [account-wagering] dispute with the horsemen," Shubeck said. "That cost us a lot of handle, and that's why we're pretty proud that our export is only down [1.6] percent."

As for ontrack handle, it was impacted by the "soft economy," said Shubeck.

"The people were here," he said. "The field size was great this year. We averaged about 9 horses per race. Last year, it was 8.6."

Trainer Steve Asmussen won his 10th local title with 78 wins from 302 starters. His stable earnings were $1.6 million. Jockey Cliff Berry picked up his third Lone Star title with 91 wins from 392 starts. His mounts earned $1.5 million. The leading owner was Tom Durant, with 17 wins from 61 starters. His stable earned $203,356. The horse of the meet was Monterey Jazz, who won the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile by eight lengths with a Beyer Speed Figure of 118.