05/06/2009 12:00AM

Changes on horizon as Lincoln opens


Lincoln's State Fair Park begins a 37-day meet Friday evening, the final season this five-eighths of a mile oval will be operated by its current management.

The Nebraska State Fair, which runs the track, will relocate to Grand Island and the Fonner Park property in 2010. The State Fair Board will operate the first 34 days of this meet. On July 10, the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association will assume operation of the facility under the name of Lincoln Race Course. By running the final three days of the meet, the HBPA will fulfill a legal obligation and be entitled to take over the simulcast operations at Lincoln. The Nebraska HBPA also operates Horsemen's Park in Omaha and Horsemen's Atokad Downs in South Sioux City.

The state fair will be held here for the final time Aug. 28 through Sept. 7. The property occupied by the fairgrounds will then be turned over to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for development as an innovation and technology campus. The Nebraska HBPA is in negotiations with UNL to conduct live racing here through 2012, with an agreement expected in the coming weeks. The HBPA's long-range goal is to build a new racetrack in Lincoln at a location in the northeast section of the city.

This meet will have a new weekday post time of 6:45 p.m. Central, while weekend and holiday cards start at 2 p.m. Racing is conducted Friday through Sunday in May, plus Memorial Day, then shifts to a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule on June 4 through closing day, July 12. Preakness Day, May 16, will again offer camel and ostrich races, an event that drew a strong crowd last year.

Nebraska 2-year-old racing begins this meet, and the season is highlighted by the $25,000-added Capitol City Futurity on closing day, the meet's biggest race.

David Anderson has won the training title here the past seven consecutive years and will be back to defend his title. Chris Fackler and Jesus Ponce, co-winners of the jockey title at Fonner Park this spring, will seek to continue their good start to the year.