Del Mar Thoroughbred Club paid the state of California $7.72- million in direct rent payments and generated an additional $4.14- million in food and beverage sales during its 43-day summer race meeting, resulting in total race meet income of $11.86 million for 2003, a record sum for the popular seaside track. The payment exceeds the 2002 total of $10.1 million by more than $1.7 million."We are extremely pleased with the results of our record-setting meet, especially in light of the difficult environment currently facing business in general in California as well as the state's racing industry," said DMTC's president and general manager Joe Harper. "I think our remarkable season - the best ever in the 64-year history of Del Mar - is a tribute to our hard-working and highly competent staff, as well as the rich history of this racetrack." Del Mar's record-setting numbers included total handle of $570,795,239 for a daily average of $13,274,308, an increase of 7.5% from 2002. The track also registered an on-track attendance gain of 8.8% with 725,922 fans making the picturesque oval a summer destination point. Conversely, all of the other major racetracks in the state noted declines in wagering and attendance for 2003.