04/14/2003 12:00AM

Oaklawn handle declines


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Oaklawn Park, which lost six days of racing this meet because of inclement weather, closed out its 49-day season Saturday with attendance figures similar to last year and a small decline in handle on its races, according to unofficial figures released by the track Saturday.

Attendance averaged 11,938 a day, which was even with last season, while the daily handle on Oaklawn's races averaged $4,649,293. Of that, $3,658,306 was bet offtrack, and $990,987 ontrack, both down 4 percent from 2002.

Daily purses averaged between $240,000 and $250,000, said Eric Jackson, the track's general manager.

Trainer Cole Norman won a record 71 races at the meet to collect his third consecutive title at Oaklawn. His stable earned $1,077,040.

Jockey Jamie Theriot edged Terry Thompson, 71 wins to 69, for his first riding title at Oaklawn. Theriot's mounts earned $1,183,610.

Highway 1 Racing Stable, a partnership of Rick Turman and second-leading trainer Stanley Roberts, won 22 races to top the owner standings.

* The $1 million mystery voucher in an National Thoroughbred Racing Association promotion Saturday was sent to someone on the Oaklawn mailing list, but the ticket was not cashed. Of 511,000 vouchers mailed nationwide, 8,613 were cashed at Oaklawn.

* Instant Racing, a parimutuel game that plays like a slot machine, handled a daily average of $229,189 during the meet, up 83 percent from last year.