10/05/2005 12:00AM

Turf Paradise breaks quickly from the gate

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Opening weekend played to rave reviews at the windows, as Turf Paradise posted its finest three-day opening in seven years. The overall handle hit over $3,834,438 for last Friday through Sunday, besting last year's total of $3,355,952. Ontrack attendance for the three days was 11,912, besting last year's total by nearly 3,000.

"This mirrors the trend of what we've seen all year at the OTB's," said new general manager Eugene Joyce. "Our in-state handle continues to grow. This isn't a bad start. We're happy about it."

Saul Arias, a new face in the riding colony, posted the first two wins of his career here Sunday. Arias, a 26-year-old native of Colombia, had four mounts on the day and won aboard Jills Classy ($20.60) in the second and Determined ($3) in the sixth. Arias previously saw some action at Del Mar.

Miguel Hernandez jumped to the top of the jockey standings opening week, posting five wins during the first five racing days. Former leading rider Scott Stevens also got off to a healthy start with four victories. Last year's leading rider, Wilson Dieguez, has three victories.

Eric Kruljac tops the trainer standings with three victories. Six other trainers have two wins each: Doug Oliver, David Van Winkle, David Wolochuk, Jerry Atkin, Molly Pearson, and Tom Bartol.