01/31/2007 1:00AM

Sunshine Millions handle up


Total handle for the Sunshine Millions cards at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., on Saturday was $35,851,675, up 12 percent compared to last year's event.

For Santa Anita's card, handle was $20,350,902, a record for the event and a 17.8 percent increase over 2006. At Gulfstream, according to charts for the races, handle on the 10-race card was $15,500,773, up 5.3 percent.

Santa Anita reported that attendance on Saturday was 36,355, the highest in the five-year history of the Sunshine Millions, which was created by Santa Anita and Gulfstream's parent company, Magna Entertainment Corp., to create a rivalry between California-bred and Florida-bred horses. The attendance figure was boosted by a giveaway of beach chairs with each paid admission.

Santa Anita attendance for the event has grown strongly. Two years ago, attendance was 17,533, and last year it was 32,116.

Gulfstream officials did not announce handle and attendance figures. The charts do not provide attendance numbers for the track, and the charts' figures for handle may not include separate-pool handle on the Gulfstream races.

Handle on the Magna 5, a wager that requires bettors to select the winners of five races held at Magna tracks across the country on Saturday, including several of the races at Santa Anita and Gulfstream, was $576,599, down 4.7 percent from last year.

- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty