04/14/2002 11:00PM

Oaklawn numbers up


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Oaklawn Park had gains in attendance and handle during its 52-day meet that ended Saturday.

Daily attendance for the meet averaged 11,980, a six percent increase over the 11,251 average in 2001. Average handle was $4.8 million, up 11 percent from $4.3 million a year ago. The biggest growth was offtrack, as outlets handled $3.7 million a day on races from Oaklawn, compared with $3.3 million a day in 2001.

Saturday's Arkansas Derby Day card drew 52,122. Handle from all sources Saturday reached $12.6 million, the third-highest one-day handle in Oaklawn history.

"Things fell together much better for us this year," Oaklawn spokesman Terry Wallace said. "We had a much better winter. People were able to get out. It was different from a year ago when we had a bad ice storm and lost lots of training."

The swift business led to a record four purse increases, with daily distribution averaging $224,840, the highest since 1998.

James Lopez won his first Oaklawn riding title with 59 wins. Cole Norman won his second consecutive training title at Oaklawn, with 45 wins. Stanley Roberts was the second-leading trainer with 24 wins, and his Hwy. 1 Racing Stable, which he co-owns with Rick Turman, topped all owners with 17 wins. Racing returns Jan. 24.