11/05/2007 12:00AM

Oak Tree meet ends with mixed figures

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - The Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting ended on Sunday with gains in all-sources handle, but a decline in ontrack attendance and handle, according to a statement released by the racetrack.

The all-sources handle at the 31-day meeting, including simulcasts, rose 9 percent, out-of-state handle rose 18 percent, and interstate handle at satellite locations within California rose 5 percent. The track did not release more specific figures. Last year, the Oak Tree meeting had an all-sources average handle of $7,878,480.

The handle figures were enhanced by revenue from simulcast wagering of the Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park in late October. In 2006, the Oak Tree meeting did not conduct simulcasting of the Breeders' Cup.

Oak Tree's executive vice president, Sherwood Chillingworth, said that purses were underpaid approximately $250,000 during the meeting and the excess amount would be carried forward to the 2008 Oak Tree meeting, which will serve as host for the Breeders' Cup.

Chillingworth described the 2007 meeting as "fantastic," even though ontrack business slumped, according to a statement released by the track. Ontrack average attendance fell 8 percent, while ontrack handle was down 2 percent. More detailed statistics were not released.

Field size rose from 8.2 horses per race in 2006 to 8.9 this year. The rise was partially attributed to the installation of a Cushion Track synthetic track surface at Santa Anita earlier this year. Synthetic surfaces are widely considered to be safer than conventional dirt surfaces.

The first Saturday, Sept. 29, drew the largest ontrack crowd - 26,970. This past Saturday's California Cup program drew a crowd of 25,763, a gain of 327 people from last year. All-sources handle on the California Cup program reached $16,852,200, a gain of 13.9 percent over 2006.

Jockey Tyler Baze won the riding title with 29 wins, four more than Victor Espinoza. The title was Baze's first since the 2004 Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

Baze missed more than a month of riding earlier this year, while battling an eating disorder and alcoholism.

"I showed people I can still ride," he said on Sunday. "I really worked my tail off every day. I don't think there were three mornings when I wasn't at the track."

Doug O'Neill and Jeff Mullins, who operate the two largest stables in Southern California, finished in a tie for leading trainer with 13 wins. O'Neill won the 2006 Oak Tree training title.