04/15/2008 11:00PM

Oaklawn handle rises slightly

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Oaklawn Park's business during its 53-day meet that closed last Saturday was on a par with the corresponding 52-day season a year ago. The track reported a 1.2 percent increase in average daily handle on its races from all sources, and slight declines in average daily attendance and ontrack handle during a winter in which storms plagued much of Arkansas.

Betting on Oaklawn's races averaged $3,419,235 a day from all sources, up from the average of $3,377,956 a day during the same meet a year ago. Of the total handle, an average of $2,535,101 a day was wagered on Oaklawn's races offtrack, which was up 3.3 percent from last year's average of $2,453,618.

Ontrack, handle on Oaklawn's races averaged $884,135 a day, a 4.3 percent drop from $924,339 in 2007. Attendance, meanwhile, averaged 11,479 patrons a day, a 3.5 percent decline from 11,890 in 2007. Electronic gaming at Oaklawn, including Instant Racing, handled $110,980,288 during the meet.

"Overall, we've got to be pleased," said David Longinotti, assistant general manager of racing for Oaklawn. "The last 45 days of the meeting, we had several counties in our state that were hit hard by flooding and tornadoes. The weather didn't help us, but we held our own, all things considered."

Gayego won the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby last Saturday before a closing-day crowd of 56,326. He is being pointed for the Kentucky Derby, while Eight Belles, who won the Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn, will run next in either the Derby, or the Kentucky Oaks.

"We may have a colt and filly representing us in the Kentucky Derby," said Longinotti.

Steve Asmussen won his second consecutive training title with 33 wins from 165 starters for stable earnings of $1,334,645. Eddie Razo Jr. led all riders in wins with 49 from 257 starts, for his first Oaklawn title. His mounts earned $1,222,060. The leading owner was Jan Haynes, who went 17 for 80.