01/03/2008 12:00AM

Numbers down for year in Maryland


All-sources handle and ontrack attendance dropped during Laurel Park's fall meet, part of an overall decline in figures throughout 2007 for the Maryland Jockey Club.

According to figures released Thursday, total handle at the 17-week Laurel fall meet that ended Dec. 29 dropped 8.5 percent, from $297.8 million in 2006 to $272.6 million this year, when there were six fewer days of live racing.

Average handle declined 3.3 percent to $3.3 million, and live attendance was off 5.6 percent to 138,195.

Overall in 2007, total handle at Laurel and Pimlico fell 8 percent from $960.2 million to $883.8 million, with five fewer racing dates. The daily average handle decreased 6.5 percent from $4.1 million to $3.8 million. Live attendance at the two tracks fell 6.7 percent.

On the plus side, more than $87.2 million was wagered on the Preakness Day card, the fourth largest handle in the 132-year history of the event, and the Maryland Million card in October drew a record crowd of 26,788. The handle of $5,985,793 on the 12-race card was a Maryland Million record, surpassing the $5 million bet on the event in 2005.