02/24/2012 4:40PM

Santa Anita: Attendance, handle up at halfway point at meet

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At the halfway point of the current Santa Anita winter-spring meeting, ontrack attendance and all-sources handle have shown increases, track officials said Thursday.

Through Monday, the 36th day of the 72-day meeting, total ontrack attendance increased 6 percent over the corresponding figure from the 2010-11 meeting. While ontrack handle was flat, out-of-state handle was up 12 percent, and all-sources handle was up 7 percent.

Santa Anita had a disappointing season in 2010-11, with all-sources handle declining by 9 percent, track officials said last year.

The current meeting has had ideal weather, with virtually no rain since the start of the meeting on Dec. 26. The season continues through April 22.

“It’s been a great meet,” track president George Haines said Thursday. “We’re seeing growth in out-of-state handle.”

The current season was scheduled for 79 days, but the track announced earlier this week that racing will not be conducted on seven consecutive Wednesdays, from March 7 to April 18, in an effort to preserve field size.

Through Monday, fields were averaging 8.25 starters since the start of the meeting, compared to 7.75 starters through the same time period in the first half of the 2010-11 meeting.