Bowie Race Course opened its winter meeting yesterday with a big increase in attendance and handle over recent years.

The crowd of 13,042 was the third largest opening day since 1957. Bettors wagered $1,557,221 on the nine-race card, the highest since the $1,573,588 of 1966 opening day. Last year's opening day in snowy weather drew 6,383 fans and a handle of $825,482.

The principal attraction was the $50,000-added Resolution Handicap. It was won by high-weighted Thirty Eight Paces, who fought off Sunny Winters in the stretch despite his 125-pound impost.

In the semifinal E. Palmer Haegerty Stakes, Purple Decade outlasted the fast-closing Bold Inspector. Morphy held well for third.

Trainer King T. Leatherbury, who had complained of the weight asignment for Thirty Eight Paces, said afterward, "We knew we had one horse to beat today--Sunny Winters. I knew we were the class, although it was no easy race with the concession."

Thirty Eight Paces ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46 and paid $3 under Bill Passmore. The exacta coupling of 1 and 4 returned $4.

Leatherbury earlier had lodged a protest after the running of the first race. Jockey Mario Pino, who had ridden the first race winner, was under suspension in Pennsylvania for not paying a $100 fine levied against him for not keeping a riding commitment.

Leatherbury's Noble Side had finished second in the race, and Leatherbury is appealing to the racing commission for the winner's share of the purse.