10/22/2003 12:00AM

Retama crowds up but handle dips


Retama Park near San Antonio reported a gain in attendance but a decrease in handle during its 48-night Thoroughbred meet that ended Sunday.

Retama averaged 2,426 patrons nightly, up 8 percent from the corresponding meet a year ago. The track handled an average $868,172 a night on its races, down 18 percent from $1,062,437 in 2002.

Retama had its greatest decline offtrack, with betting on Retama's races averaging $766,638 a night, 19 percent down from $958,288 in 2002. Officials said offtrack results were hurt by the loss of handle from the North Dakota-based betting operation Racing Services. Racing Services was taken over by the state of North Dakota earlier this year because it owed taxes to the state.

Ontrack, betting on Retama's races averaged $101,534 a night, down 2 percent from 2002.