07/31/2013 12:05PM

Columbus opens for 16-day meet in Nebraska


COLUMBUS, Neb. – After a 12-week hiatus, live racing returns to Nebraska on Friday evening when Columbus opens a 16-day stand under the control of Columbus Exposition and Racing.

The meet will provide fans a grab bag of wagering angles as many horses and horsemen make their return to the state from tracks in Colorado, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. There also appears to be a good number of horses who have not raced since mid-May following the Horsemen’s Park meet, which ended May 12.

The first of four $15,000 stakes for Nebraska-breds at the meet is the Amadevil Stakes for older horses on Aug. 17. Stakes for open company were trimmed from this year’s stakes schedule.

Aug. 17 will also mark the return of Columbus native Jack Van Berg, who will be at the track from 6-8 p.m. as part of his book signing tour for “Jack, From Grit to Glory.”

About 500 to 600 horses are expected on the grounds in the coming days. With the reduced horse population, the track will offer eight races on Friday and Saturday evenings and seven races on Sunday afternoons.

The jockey colony sees the return of defending champion Luis Ranilla, brothers Jake and Jordan Olesiak, Damon Leeds, William Hensen, and Armando Martinez along with apprentices Nathan Haar and Skyler White Shield. Ashley Dill, who vied for the riding title here in 2011, will make her return to riding after taking several months off. Jeramie Fennell will ride here for the first time.

David Anderson, leading trainer at Fonner Park this spring, brings in a good-sized stable. Jim Compton, Jesse Compton, Brian Roberts, and Dan Coughlin are among the returning regulars on this circuit. Newcomers include Korina Deal and Randy Bonn from South Dakota.

◗ Lincoln Race Course, which has been leasing the grandstand at the former state fair grounds in Lincoln, is scheduled to move into its newly constructed simulcast facility this September and is scheduled to construct a one-mile oval at the new location. Lincoln conducted a one-furlong race in early January at the old location to assure simulcasting at the new venue through 2014.