The 32nd Oak Tree Racing Association meeting at Santa Anita ended Monday with an increase in total handle despite a decline in on-track attendance and handle from last season. The meeting's total combined average daily handle of $9,760,972 was up 2.7 percent over 1999 while on-track average daily attendance for the 27-day meeting was 11,170, a decline of 4.1 percent from last year. Average daily on-track handle also declined to $2,352,124 down 1.2 percent from last year. "We had a good meet despite the decrease in on-track attendance and handle," said Sherwood C. Chillingworth, executive vice president of Oak Tree. "One reason for the attendance decline may have been the Southern California bus strike. Both on-track and ITW attendance and handle were up considerably once the strike was settled."
Chillingworth added that the total handle increase indicates that revenue sources are healthy and also reflects the national popularity of Oak Tree's racing program. Oak Tree's total pari-mutuel handle (on-track, inter-state and intra-state) was $263,546,256 for the meeting, which included the simulcast of this year's Breeders' Cup from Churchill Downs. Total on-track attendance for the meeting was 301,587Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., who extended his all-time winning record to more than 9,000 races during the meet, took his first Oak Tree title since 1982 with 31 victories. After Monday's racing, Pincay had 9,012 career wins.On Monday's closing card, Bill Spawr clinched his first Oak Tree training title with his 17th winner, edging Bob Baffert by one victory and ending a three-year reign by Baffert atop the Oak Tree standings.