In 2001, in-state handle in Maryland improved for the sixth time in the last seven years.The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, said the all-sources handle totaled $535,813,090, compared with $530,833,234 in 2000 despite the fact there were three less liveThoroughbred dates and 14 fewer Standardbred dates in 2001."We are very pleased that not withstanding the myriad of challenges that we have had to face (in 2001), total in-state wagering increased," said Joe De Francis, president and chief executive officer of the MJC. "We are especially pleased that wagering around the country on our Laurel and Pimlico signals continues to increase, going from $367.7 million in 2000 to $391.4 million in 2001, a gain of 6.5%."The fall meet was especially strong for the MJC. Despite having run 9% fewer races, the MJC reported a 14% increase in all-sources Thoroughbred handle. Per race, the increase amounts to 25%. The improvement is credited to larger fields; in 2001, 8.6 horses started per race, compared with 7.9 in 2000."This fall, we saw a resurgence in Maryland racing," said Lou Raffetto, chief operating officer for the MJC. "It is quite evident by both the quality and quantity of the fields we put together that Maryland racing has once again become a staple in the diet of every racegoer. The reception from out of state bettors has been overwhelming, as the exported handle increased by $6.5 million in the last two months."