04/23/2009 12:00AM

Sunland handle slips a bit


Sunland Park's average daily handle for its 77-date mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses that closed Tuesday was off less than 1 percent from the corresponding meet a year ago. The track handled an average $807,566 a day on its races from all-sources this meet, compared with $813,083 over 77 dates in 2007-2008.

Of the total amount, an average $711,683 was bet on the track's races offsite, up .3 percent from last meet's average of $709,306. Ontrack, patrons bet $95,883 a day on Sunland's races this meet, down more than 7 percent from $103,777 in 2007-2008.

"In today's economy, we're very happy with these numbers," said Dustin Dix, director of racing operations for Sunland. "Our ontrack declines are lower than the industry standards. We were actually up offtrack, and we were excited about that."

Dix noted Sunland handled a track-record $2,690,130 on its Sunland Park Derby card March 29, which he said broke the previous all-time handle mark set Feb. 10, 2004 by about $600,000. Kelly Leak won the $800,000 Sunland Derby, as well as a $100,000 bonus attached to the race, and was subsequently voted horse of the meet. Advice, who was fifth, came back last weekend to win the Grade 2 Lexington.

There are no attendance figures to report for Sunland because the track, which operates a slots casino, does not charge admission. Purses this meet averaged $308,819 a day, according to officials with Sunland.

Jockey Ken Tohill won his sixth straight Thoroughbred title at Sunland with 83 wins from 373 starts, for mount earnings of $1,692,771. Chris Hartman picked up his third consecutive Thoroughbred training title at the track, with 48 wins from 183 starts, and stable earnings of $920,055.