07/30/2014 12:02PM

Columbus opens five-week meet


COLUMBUS, Neb. – After a 2 1/2-month hiatus, live racing returns Friday evening to Nebraska as Columbus Races opens for a five-week stand that runs through Labor Day.

This will mark the second meet operated by the nonprofit entity Columbus Exposition and Racing, which was formed last summer to salvage racing in Columbus. The former operator of the meet, the Platte County Agricultural Society, still operates the county fair and other activities during the year but did not apply for race dates in 2013, which prompted the formation of the new entity.

Columbus Exposition and Racing took over operations of the simulcast facility at the start of this year and leases the grounds and facility for the live meet. Horses have been trickling in over the past couple of weeks as local horsemen make their way back from Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Colorado, where many went following the Fonner Park meet that ended May 3.

Brothers Jordan and Jake Olesiak return to head the riding colony that also will include regulars Luis Ranilla, Armando Martinez, Nathan Haar, and William Henson. Tori Gandia, who rode at Fonner Park this spring, will make her Columbus debut, as will Charles McClellan.

Mark Lemburg is back to defend his training title from last year in a competition that came down to closing day. Jim Compton and his son, Jesse Compton, tied for second last year, and both return. Also returning are Dan Coughlin, Schuyler Condon, Butch Staroscik, and a host of others.

Racing starts Friday at 6:30 p.m. Central and follows a Friday-through-Sunday schedule each weekend, concluding with a holiday card on Labor Day, Sept. 1.