01/01/2003 1:00AM

NYRA handle up, attendance down

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Total handle rose while ontrack handle and attendance remained stagnant during 2002 at the New York Racing Association tracks, according to figures released Wednesday.

Total commingled handle on NYRA's races rose 3.5 percent to a daily average of $10,604,210, compared to $10,244,920 in 2001. When factoring in simulcasts, total commingled handle rose 3.8 percent. NYRA added wagering on an additional out-of-state track during the Saratoga meet.

Ontrack handle on NYRA's races dropped 2.4 percent to a daily average of $1,428,229, from $1,463,077 in 2001. When factoring in simulcasts, ontrack handle actually rose fractionally, to $1,937,399 from $1,925,733.

Ontrack attendance for the year was 2,341,014, an average of 9,145, up .5 percent from 2001 when total attendance averaged 9,062 daily.

NYRA ran 256 dates in 2002, compared with 257 in 2001, when Belmont Park hosted the Breeders' Cup.

"When you take into account our totals this year are compared to a year in which we hosted the Breeders' Cup, I would have to say that our results compare even more favorably," said NYRA president and COO Terry Meyocks. "We were also not blessed with the extremely good weather we had during the second half of 2001. In 2001 we had little rain during the Saratoga meet and warm temperatures through the end of the year. That was not the case during 2002."