07/27/2011 3:46PM

Columbus tinkers with post times for new meet


The 2011 live racing season in Nebraska enters the home stretch Friday night as the final stop on the regular circuit, Agricultural Park at Columbus, opens for a 23-day stand that will run through Sept. 11.

There will be two additional days of racing in the state, but final plans for the one-day meet at Horsemen’s Atokad Downs in South Sioux City and the Quarter Horse day at Fair Play Park in Hastings have yet to be announced.

Most notable of changes at the track this year will be a new Sunday post time of 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday first post times have been moved up 15 minutes to 6:30 p.m. There will also be racing on Thursday, Aug. 18, with a 6:30 p.m. post and Monday, Sept. 5, with a Labor Day post time of 2 p.m.

Dudley Graham, who earned his first training title in Nebraska at this meet last year, returns to defend his title and is joined by a cast of regulars that includes 2011 Fonner Park and Lincoln leading trainer Chuck Turco. Among the other leaders returning from last year are regulars Jim Compton, Dan Coughlin, Larry Staroscik, and Milton Grade.

The rider colony will include last year’s leading jockey, Luis Ranilla, and his son Jose. The brother tandem of Jordan and Jake Olesiak, Ashley Dill, Chris Fackler, Armando Martinez, and Karlo Lopez are among the other regulars. Nestor Maldonado joined the Nebraska circuit in Lincoln.

The 11-race stakes schedule this year was altered some with the Inaugural Stakes for 3-year-old fillies shifted to the second weekend of the meet on Friday, Aug. 5, to be followed on Saturday with the Hall of Fame for 3-year-olds. The weekend of Aug.  18 offers three stakes races with the Maturity/Matron on Friday, the Van Berg Derby on Saturday, and the Club House Special on Sunday.