07/30/2007 12:00AM

Lone Star handle drops; rain a major factor


Lone Star Park experienced a 13.5 percent drop in average daily handle on its races during its 67-date meet that closed Sunday, with the decline at least partly attributable to the 27 inches of rain that pounded the Grand Prairie, Texas, track.

Lone Star handled just under $1.7 million a day on its races, down from the approximately $1.9 million during the 66-date meet in 2006. The biggest decline came offtrack, where Lone Star handled $1.2 million a day versus $1.5 in 2006.

Despite all the rain, average daily attendance rose 2.5 percent, to 7,100.

The wet weather made the track's simulcast signal less attractive, said Drew Shubeck, president and general manager of Lone Star. With 527 scratches, field size hit an all-time low of 8.49 starters per race. There were 60 races moved from turf to dirt, versus 16 in 2006.

"When you have rain and it comes off the turf, and you have 20 scratches in one card," said Shubeck, "people that are sitting in other locations, they may choose to wager a different racetrack or wager a lot less on your own track. They know it's going to be prohibitive favorites, they didn't handicap it for off the turf. That all affects your handle.

Shubeck also said Lone Star's signal went into fewer outlets and that a key state, California, took 36 percent fewer races from Lone Star.

"When they're doing the forecast, they're seeing that it's going to be raining on the weekend and they choose to take another track instead of us because they're limited to 20 races a day," he said.

Shubeck said high points included Lone Star Million Day, and a 9.5 percent increase in average daily handle on incoming simulcasts, to $670,000.

Steve Asmussen won his ninth training title with 73 wins. Ramsey Zimmerman led all riders with 82 wins. The leading owner was Heflin and Driver Racing.