03/25/2002 1:00AM

World Cup card handle soars

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The total North American wagering for four races on Saturday's Dubai World Cup card at Nad Al Sheba was $2.7 million, a 37 percent increase over last year, according to Arlington Park, which served as the hub for the bets.

Over half of the total was on this year's $6 million World Cup, which was won by Street Cry. Handle on the race, which had a post time of 12:40 p.m. Eastern, was $1.56 million, a 36 percent increase over last year, despite the few popular U.S.-based horses in the field.

Last year, when Captain Steve won the World Cup, wagering was $1.15 million. No horse in this year's race had the popularity of Captain Steve, and, in fact, no U.S.-owned horse started in this year's World Cup.

On the undercard, handle on the $2 million Dubai Duty Free was $599,155, up 134 percent compared with last year. Wagering on the $2 million Golden Shaheen and $2 million Sheema Classic was $449,629 and $114,421, respectively.

Arlington officials said the four-race simulcast was broadcast to more than 600 locations.