07/16/2003 11:00PM

Atokad: Two-day meet opens

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. - Horsemen's Atokad Downs swings back to life with a two-day meet offering approximately $80,000 per day on its six-race cards.

Formerly known as Atokad Park and located in the northeastern corner of the state, the track was ordered closed in 1998 by the State Racing Commission when it could not display the financial responsibility to conduct a live meet. Its final season of live racing came in the fall of 1997.

The property was sold to Taylor & Martin, which conducts truck sales throughout the year. The Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association negotiated the re-purchase of a portion of the property in 2000 and reopened for simulcasting and a one-day meet of eight races in 2001.

Atokad Downs recently underwent a management change after financial difficulties resulted in the loss of many of its simulcast signals. Greg Hosch has stepped in to reorganize the day-to-day operations of the facility and business has been showing a steady increase.

The races at Atokad are mainly geared to horses who have helped support the state's racing industry by making starts at Fonner Park and Lincoln's State Fair Park this year. It offers horses who race in Nebraska a shot at a big payday through purses supplemented by Atokad's highly successful sister track, Horsemen's Park in Omaha.

Saturday's races drew an overflow of entries after 146 horses were entered. As many as 32 horses were excluded from the draw in one race, and other races had more than a dozen entrants excluded.

The card begins with a $6,250 maiden claimer and follows with $2,500 and $3,000 conditioned claiming races offering purses of $12,500 each. The feature is a $15,000 starter allowance for Nebraska-breds. The finale is a $3,000 claimer at 1 1/8 miles.