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Handle jumps at Hollywood fall meet

With seven days of simulcasts still to come, Hollywood Park has thus far shown a sizable increase in all-sources handle for the 2012 Autumn meet. The live portion of the 24-day season concluded Sunday.

"Preliminarily, we are up between 7-8 per cent through a comparable number of days (the 2011 Autumn meet was 26 days),'' Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau said.

Additionally, average field size increased for a third consecutive year, rising from 7.33 starters per race in 2010 to 7.89 last year and 8.16 in 2012. The season certainly finished with a flourish as 228 horses were entered in 21 races the final two days of the meet.

Jockey Edwin Maldonado won his first major riding title in Southern California, finishing with 25 wins, one more than Rafael Bejarano. Martin Garcia was third with 22 victories.

Hall of Famer Bob Baffert won his third Autumn training title -- and fifth overall, including the 2010 Oak Tree meet -- at Hollywood Park. Baffert wound up with 17 wins, leaving him three clear of John Sadler and four in front of Doug O'Neill.

Baffert was also the leader in stakes victories (four) and earnings ($1,169,340). Game On Dude provided Baffert with one of the stakes wins, rebounding from a subpar performance in the Breeders' Cup Classic to take the Grade 3 Native Diver on December 1. The win earned the five-year-old son of Awesome Again Horse of the Meet honors in the annual media poll.

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