Laurel Park closed out its winter meet on March 28 with a 2% gain in all-source handle. All-sources handle totaled $245 million for the 2004 winter meet, compared to $240 million in 2003. Laurel's meet-end figures showed a 7.2% decline in live handle, but a 4.6% increase on the imported signal. The end result was the gain in overall handle. Part of the increase in simulcast handle can be attributed to a 60% uptick in simulcast dates, going from 15 in 2003 to 24 in 2004. The 2004 winter meet consisted of 62 live days, two more than a year ago when snow forced the cancellation of five cards. The average number of runners per race also rose a bit from 7.42 at last year's Laurel meet to 7.55 this year."As was the case with many tracks in the Northeast, business was adversely affected by the frigid temperatures in January," said Lou Raffetto, chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club in a release. "However, as the weather improved, we witnessed an upturn in business which we hope will carry over to the Pimlico spring meeting."