07/14/2003 12:00AM

Lone Star numbers decline


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Despite picking up momentum in the final weeks of the meet, Lone Star Park experienced declines in attendance and handle during its 70-date season for Thoroughbreds, which closed Sunday.

Attendance this meet fell 4 percent to 8,600 a day, while overall handle on the track's races dropped 6 percent to $2.51 million a day.

Lone Star handled an average of $565,000 a day on its races ontrack, a 10 percent decline from last year. Offtrack, handle fell 4 percent, with $1.94 million a day bet on races originating from Lone Star.

Jeff Greco, the track's general manager, said war with Iraq and subsequent sagging economy played roles in the declines. He added that during the final five weeks of the season, business levels were about even with the strong meet of 2002.

Cole Norman won his first Lone Star training title with a record 98 wins. Corey Lanerie picked up his fourth riding title, by a single win over Eddie Martin Jr., 86 to 85.

Among owners, Ken Murphy won his third straight Lone Star title with a record 26 wins.