Oak Tree Meeting Closes on Record Note : Attendance, Handle Both Up; Louis Le Grand Wins Burke Handicap

Times Staff Writer

Tracks that host the Breeders' Cup show only a small profit--if any--for the day, because of their contractual agreements with the sponsoring organization in Kentucky.

But Santa Anita and its lessee, the Oak Tree Racing Assn., still thrived at the counting house, using Saturday's Breeders' Cup and its fringe benefits to turn a good meeting into an outstanding one.

After the 27-day season ended Monday, Oak Tree showed an average daily gain of 6.6% in attendance, and daily betting rose 13.9%. The average crowd was 28,617, and the average daily handle was $5.6 million.

Even without Breeders' Cup day, when 69,155 fans bet a North American record of $15.4 million, Oak Tree would have shown gains over last year. Without the Breeders' Cup, and eliminating the corresponding Saturday in 1985, Oak Tree's averages rose 2.6% in attendance and 9.2% in handle.

Being able to run stakes early in the season that included Breeders' Cup candidates helped the quality of the races, and the entire Cup weekend was a bonanza for Oak Tree. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, $31.6 million was bet at Santa Anita.

With a healthy Pick Nine pool that had to be won by somebody because it was the final day of the meeting, 34,389 fans went to Santa Anita on Monday, betting $8.1 million. Many of them stayed to see Louis Le Grand, trained by Charlie Whittingham and ridden by Bill Shoemaker, win the $201,200 Carleton F. Burke Handicap by a neck over Schiller.

The win was worth $133,700 to Louis Le Grand's owner, Allen Paulson, but the three winning Pick Nine tickets dwarfed that return. In fact, they even dwarfed the purse money earned by most of the winners on the seven-race, $10-million Breeders' Cup card.

Three tickets in the Pick Nine, all with nine winners, each were worth $527,281.

The last time Louis Le Grand ran, in the Russell Handicap at Santa Anita on Oct. 1, he lost a photo to Glaros. Whittingham didn't care who won, since he trained both horses, but Monday it was different, because Louis Le Grand was the only horse he had in the photo.

The 55-year-old Shoemaker and the 73-year-old Whittingham have won more than 225 stakes together. Louis Le Grand, paying $10.80 to win while running as a entry with Ifrad, who finished eighth, covered 1 miles in 2:01 1/5.

Schiller finished a half-length ahead of favored Silveyville, who led most of the way.

Shoemaker, winning his 956th stake and his 225th worth $100,000 or more, brought Louis Le Grand from last place in the 10-horse field, the two of them closing six horses wide through the stretch to edge Schiller at the wire.

In Louis Le Grand's last race, Shoemaker had been fooled, thinking his horse had beaten Glaros. Shoemaker said he was sure about winning Monday, too, but, at 55, he's learned a lesson. He didn't say anything until the placing judges posted the numbers on the tote board.

Horse Racing Notes Wayne Lukas, who trains Lady's Secret, finds it hard to get excited about a notion to put together many of the year's top horses for a rich race at Hollywood Park in December. "Who thought this up?" Lukas said. "It sounds like it came from somebody that got beat and is desperate." Lukas, who feels that Lady's Secret deserves to be horse of the year after her win Saturday in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita, still has no plans to race her until next year. . . . Hollywood Park, which will open its fall season Wednesday, is interested in organizing a race that might include Lady's Secret, Turkoman, Precisionist, Manila and others.

The early ratings on NBC's four-hour telecast of the eight Breeders' Cup races indicate that the final figures, available on Thursday, will be better than last year at Aqueduct, but lower than the first year, at Hollywood Park in 1984. The 13-market overnight rating this year was 4.4, which means that 12% of the country's households were watching. Last year, the overall rating was 4.0, and in 1984 it was 5.1. The competition, Miami-Florida State football and Lakers-Rockets on CBS, and Oklahoma-Kansas football on ABC, did better than the racing. CBS' overnights were 6.6 and 5.7, and ABC's was 5.4. Breeders' Cup officials will be puzzled by the city-by-city breakdown, however, since Denver, which was second to Dallas last year, was the runaway leader Saturday with 8.1. Denver doesn't have any thoroughbred racing, its track having filed for bankruptcy a couple of years ago. New York was next with 5.3; Los Angeles had 4.9.

Jockey Sandy Hawley will undergo shoulder surgery today, and it's estimated that he'll be sidelined for four to six weeks. Hawley recently had a growth removed from the area, and tests revealed a malignancy. Today's surgery at Huntington Memorial Hospital is to make certain that all cancer has been removed. . . . Corey Black's win aboard Infinidad in Monday's Princess Rooney Stakes was his first since his apprenticeship ended last week. . . . Cavalry Club, who earned $2,800 for running second in a race Oct. 23, has had the purse money taken away because a postrace test showed the horse had received an illegal medication, a local anesthetic. . . . Gary Stevens was the leading jockey for the Oak Tree season with 34 wins, three more than Laffit Pincay. John Gosden led the trainers' standings with 10 wins, finishing ahead of Lukas, Neil Drysdale and Ron Ellis, who had nine apiece.

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