Spurred by the largest single-day mutuel handle in the track's history, Monmouth Park showed across-the-board gains in betting and attendance for the 87-day 2004 meeting that came to a close Sunday.The Haskell Day throng of 45,365 on Aug. 8, third largest in track history, helped raise total attendance for the meet to 790,451. Total betting that day of $12,686,430, largest one-day handle in Monmouth history, helped push total wagering to $247,388,290. The on-track handle that day was $3,802,494, second highest in track history.Average daily attendance of 9,086 for the 87 days was 4.2% higher than in 2003, while average daily total handle of $2,843,544 was up 17.2% from the previous year. On-track handle totaled $61,474,831 for a daily average of $706,607, an increase of 5.6% over the 2003 average."Quality racing sells," said Bob Kulina, vice president of Thoroughbred racing and general manager. "With the increased purses, we were able to offer an improved racing product and better racing leads directly to better business."Lion Heart, owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith and trained by Patrick Biancone, powered his way to a gate-to-wire victory in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I) with My Snookie's Boy second. A son of Monmouth winner Tale of the Cat, Lion Heart's winning prize of $600,000 raised his career total of $1,380,800. Joe Bravo, who won a record 10th title at Monmouth Park for most wins at the meet, rode him that day. Top apprentice jockey this year was Michael Baze, a member of the famous riding family.
Tim Hills won his second Monmouth training title this season after finishing second last year. Hills took his first Monmouth crown in 2002. Michael Gill was the leading owner for the second year in a row.