12/28/2007 12:00AM

Ontrack handle falls, all-sources up for opener

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Wednesday's opening card of the Santa Anita 85-day winter-spring meeting showed a decrease in ontrack business from last year's opener, but a gain in all-sources handle on a nine-race program run in glorious weather.

The ontrack crowd of 30,156 was down 8.4 percent from the 2006 opening day crowd of 32,931, while the ontrack handle of $4,447,149 was down 10.7 percent from the 2006 figure of $4,979,885. The all-sources handle, including simulcast betting on other tracks and advance-deposit wagering, reached $15,116,490, a gain of 1.1 percent over last year.

Track president Ron Charles said he was pleased with the ontrack crowd despite the decrease.

"I go a lot by atmosphere and how people react," Charles said. "I think this will start us off well and put us on our way."

Santa Anita opened its winter-spring meeting last year on a Tuesday, which Charles said draws a larger opening-day crowd than a Wednesday. Charles pointed out that the 2001 winter-spring meeting, the last year the track opened on a Wednesday, drew an ontrack crowd of 27,713.

"We're up from that," he said.

First-ever Super High Five goes un-hit

The track launched a new bet Wednesday, the $1 Super High Five, which requires bettors to select the first five finishers of the last race. On Wednesday, the race was a sprint for maiden claimers.

The bet drew a handle of $54,653, but there were no winning tickets, leaving a carryover after takeout of $43,350 for Friday. There is no consolation provision to a bet that track officials hope will attract much larger pools.

Wednesday's winning combination of 8-4-6-10-3 consisted of Custom Design ($9 to win), Danny Templeton (8-1), Press Release (9-1), The Emerald King (57-1) and Court Rule (46-1).

Hennessy's Hope, the 3-1 favorite, finished ninth. The race was off at 4:37 p.m., but the payoff was not announced until 5 p.m.

Flores rides four opening-day winners

David Flores was the star jockey on Wednesday, sweeping three stakes and winning four races from six mounts.

"It was beautiful," Flores said.

Flores, 39, won all three stakes in the same style - leading or disputing the pace. He won aboard Bob Black Jack in the $138,385 California Breeders' Champion Stakes, Johnny Eves in the $250,000 Malibu Stakes, and Monterey Jazz in the $122,100 Sir Beaufort Stakes.

Monterey Jazz ($12.80) set early fractions of 22.81 and 46.32 seconds, and was not challenged until the final furlong.

"That helps a lot when you don't have another speed horse," Flores said.

Mr Napper Tandy closed from ninth to finish second, losing by a length. Twilight Meteor also closed well to finish third in the field of 13 3-year-olds.

Monterey Jazz ran a mile on turf in 1:34.36, scoring his third win in his last four starts. He is owned by the partnership of A & R Stables and Class Racing Stable and trainer Craig Dollase.