11/27/2006 12:00AM

Ontrack betting up 14 percent


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – All-sources and off-track wagering were down slightly from corresponding 2005 figures at the Churchill Downs fall meet that ended Saturday, while average ontrack wagering was up substantially.

Figures do not include the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup, meaning the comparisons that were released by the track were for a 21-day meet in 2005 versus 20 days for 2006. The daily all-sources handle this fall averaged $8.61 million, down less than 1 percent from the $8.68 million from last fall.

Off-track wagering averaged $7.28 million this fall, down 3 percent from the $7.51 million from last year, while ontrack handle averaged $1.33 million, up nearly 14 percent over the $1.17 million of last fall.

Ontrack attendance averaged 7,848, up marginally over the 7,820 averaged last fall. Per-day purses averaged $486,974, up nearly 2 percent over the $478,632 paid out last fall. Average field size was 9.57 horses per race, down slightly from 10.17 last fall.

On the racetrack, the main highlights were the 23rd Breeders’ Cup championships and the meet-ending features of the final three-day weekend, including a 7 1/4-length victory by Premium Tap in the Clark Handicap on Friday. The track also opened and closed the meet with “Stars of Tomorrow” programs, with every race restricted to 2-year-olds.

As for the 10-race Breeders’ Cup card, more than $140 million was wagered at all sources, including $18.3 million at the track. Both are records.

Churchill president Steve Sexton said in a release that he was pleased with the results of the meet, especially with the Breeders’ Cup. “The home of the Kentucky Derby has established itself as the premier venue to host racing’s championship day,” he said.

Meanwhile, Calvin Borel and Shaun Bridgmohan tied for leading rider at the fall meet, with 23 wins apiece. This was the second straight fall meet that the jockey title was split; last year, Rafael Bejarano and Mark Guidry both had 26 winners.

For Bridgmohan, who has returned to New York for the winter, the title was his first at a Kentucky track. For Borel, who suffered a broken arm in a Thursday spill and missed the final 2 1/2 programs of the meet, the title was his second at Churchill. He also won the 1999 fall-meet title.

Scott Blasi topped the trainer standings with 17 wins, and Richard, Bert, and Elaine Klein led all owners with nine wins. The titles were the first at Churchill for both Blasi and the Kleins.