01/19/2004 12:00AM

NYRA numbers dip

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It was a tough year for the New York Racing Association in more ways than one.

In addition to being indicted and fined $3 million for fraud in 2003, the NYRA also suffered declines in attendance and handle for the year when compared with 2002. Daily average all-sources handle was off 1.8 percent from $11,148,698 to $10,953,180. Total all-sources handle was down 4.1 percent from $2,854,065,170 to $2,738,294,945.

Daily average attendance declined 0.5 percent to 9,534 compared with 9,585 in 2002. Total attendance was down 2.9 percent to 2,383,559, but there were six fewer racing days in 2003.

Daily average ontrack handle, including simulcasts, slipped 4.4 percent to $1,970,521. Total ontrack handle dipped 6.6 percent to $527,428,992. Daily average ontrack handle on NYRA races only was down 5.9 percent to $1,425,767. Total ontrack handle on NYRA races only was down 8.1 percent, to $388,041,523.

"It was a difficult year for us in a number of ways,'' said Bill Nader, NYRA senior vice president. "We saw the introduction of unlimited simulcasting to OTB in May, which certainly cut into statewide wagering on our product.

Nader also said 11 cards were canceled because of weather in 2003, compared with only four in 2002.

"We were also hit hard with bad weather on key racing days throughout the year," Nader said.

Business at the 38-day Aqueduct fall meet that ended Dec. 31 was poor.

Daily average attendance was down 16.6 percent, from 4,825 to 4,024. All-sources daily average total handle slipped 4.4 percent to $8,931,766, while daily average total handle on NYRA races was down 3.3 percent to $8,443,178.

Ontrack, daily average total handle on NYRA races was off 13.3 percent to $826,699, while daily average ontrack handle including simulcasting was down 15.6 percent to $1,315,287.