05/18/2003 11:00PM

Preakness numbers down


NEW YORK - Overnight television ratings for NBC's Preakness Stakes broadcast on Saturday fell 13.8 percent compared with last year, from 6.5 to 5.6, NBC officials said on Monday.

Share for the broadcast fell 13.3 percent, from 17 to 15. Share measures the percentage of televisions in use that are tuned to a specific broadcast. Each overnight rating point equals approximately 667,000 households.

The decline in ratings was mirrored by a 10 percent dip in betting on the Preakness. Betting was concentrated on two horses in the 10-horse race, Funny Cide, the favorite, and Peace Rules, the second choice, which dampened figures in all the pools.

According to the Equibase chart, total handle on the Preakness was $39,854,912, down from last year's record of $42,301,515. The 2003 figure includes a double bet linking Friday's Pimlico Special and the Preakness, as well as a new head-to-head wager on the Preakness itself.

Betting for the entire 13-race Pimlico card on Saturday was $59,384,334, according to track officials, down 7.9 percent from 2002's record handle of $64,546,504.