07/08/2001 11:00PM

Mixed results for Churchill Downs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - While all-sources wagering at the Churchill Downs spring meet established another track record, ontrack numbers showed slight declines, again giving this historic track equal doses of good news and bad news.

Total wagering for the 52-day meet that ended Sunday exceeded $522 million, yielding a daily average of $10,046,471. The 5.1 percent increase over corresponding 2000 dates was largely attributable to a still-expanding simulcast market.

However, ontrack attendance and wagering were down again, a familiar trend since a nearby Indiana riverboat casino became operational in November 1998. Daily attendance averaged 13,619, down 3.1 percent, while handle averaged $1,787,032, down 5.7 percent.

The overall effect yielded a three percent decrease in daily purse averages from 2000, falling to $421,762. Field size averaged 8.78 horses per race, up from 8.51 last spring.

Churchill president Alex Waldrop said there was "much to celebrate" about the spring meet but said a "soft economy and the ever-increasing competition" for the gambling dollar in the local market again had taken a toll on ontrack business.

Flint, Romans finish in a dead-heat

The trainer's race came down to the last race of the last day. The odds-on Interest Only, trained by Bernie Flint, was an easy winner, allowing Flint to salvage a 22-22 tie with Dale Romans. The day started with Flint leading 21-20, but Romans sent out the first two winners. Although Romans had six more starters on the program, he won none, while Flint was a winner with his only starter.

This was the third straight Churchill meet that two trainers tied for the title. Last spring, Romans tied with D. Wayne Lukas. Flint tied with Elliott Walden last fall.

In other races, Pat Day easily captured his 30th Churchill riding title by winning 86 races, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey were the leading owners with 14 wins.