12/27/2009 1:00AM

Santa Anita draws more than 35,000 for opener


ARCADIA, Calif. - Santa Anita drew its largest ontrack crowd for an opening day in 10 years when 35,292 attended Saturday's 10-race program.

The opening day audience was a 6 percent increase from the 33,308 that attended the first day of the 2008-09 meeting, which was held on a Friday. The last time the track opened on a Saturday, in 1998, the ontrack audience was 42,535.

Saturday's all-sources handle of $14,913,953 marked a gain of 1 percent over 2008. The ontrack handle of $4,531,236 improved 12 percent from 2008, but the out-of-state handle of $7,200,517 was down approximately 7 percent, largely because dozens of simulcast sites in the Mid-Atlantic are not receiving the Santa Anita signal owing to a dispute regarding the distribution of revenue. The dispute had not been resolved as of Sunday, track officials said.

The 83-day meeting runs through April 18.