04/02/2002 1:00AM

Sam Houston numbers up


Sam Houston Race Park closed out its 82-night Thoroughbred meet Saturday with small gains in average daily handle, attendance, and purses.

Handle on the track's live races averaged $2,131,700 a night, up 2 percent over last year, while attendance averaged 3,131 a card, up 3 percent. Purses at the meet averaged $111,614, a 10 percent increase over the same period a year ago.

Jockey John Jacinto won four races on closing night to capture the riding title over Glen Murphy, 67 wins to 64. The title was a career first for Jacinto, whose mounts this meet earned $554,088.

Trainer Steve Asmussen won his second Sam Houston title, with 56 wins, 26 more than second-leading trainer Danny Pish.

Asmussen's stable earned $791,976, and among his top horses were Sly Kona, who was voted horse of the meet for her three stakes wins at Sam Houston: the $50,000 Bara Lass, the $30,000 Katy, and the $30,000 Sam Houston Oaks.

Nelson Bunker Hunt and the partnership of Shirley Miller and Jamie Castellanos tied for leading owner honors at the meet, with 14 victories each. The Sam Houston title was a first for Hunt, who last month earned the same honor at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Sam Houston will open for a Quarter Horse meet June 28.