09/08/2009 12:00AM

Four-day meet wraps up racing year

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SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. - Horsemen's Atokad Downs closes out the 2009 Thoroughbred season in Nebraska with a four-day mini-meet that runs Thursday through Sunday.

A Thursday card has been added this year to keep the number of racing days in the state at 102, which satisfies the minimum number of days needed for the state's five racetracks to conduct year-round simulcast wagering. Located in northeast Nebraska, about 90 miles north of Omaha, Horsemen's Atokad Downs is operated by Omaha Exposition and Racing, a division of the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. That organization will also take over operations at State Fair Park on Jan, 1, as the track changes its name to Lincoln Race Course.

Formerly called Atokad Park, the track was closed in 1998 under financial duress and eventually sold to the truck auction group Taylor & Martin Inc. Much of the property was bought by the Nebraska horsemen's association, and the track reopened as Horsemen's Atokad Downs in 2001 with a one-day meet. Taylor & Martin Inc. occupies part of the main building and the north end of the property, which resulted in the 6 1/2-furlong chute being shortened, with races now run at "about" 6 1/2 furlongs, known as the Atokad Course.

Thursday will feature a four-race card, and Friday's card will have five races, with first post both days at 5 p.m. Central. The Saturday and Sunday cards will get under way at 2 p.m. with six races each day.

Purses generally range from $7,000 to $10,000 and require a horse to have made at least one start in Nebraska this year. Horses who have raced only in Nebraska this year generally receive first preference. The top purse of the meet will be offered Saturday, when a wide open allowance for older Nebraska-bred with a $15,000 purse is up for grabs.