07/07/2009 11:00PM

Fundraiser for jockey Luark

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Friday night s fundraiser for jockey Mike Luark has drawn a wide array of items to be raffled and auctioned off, ranging from a 37-inch Sony HDTV to an Australian saddle.

Luark, seriously injured in a spill here on Memorial Day weekend, suffered several broken vertebrae and had steel rods inserted in his back to stabilize the injury. He is expected to be out of action for a year or more.

The Nebraska Horsemen s Benevolent and Protective Association, State Fair Park, Nebraska Breeders Association, the Nebraska racetracks, and several other individuals and businesses have teamed to assemble the items to be offered Friday evening during the races.

Two grand prizes will be raffled off, the Sony television and a Nebraska Cornhuskers ultimate tailgating package that includes a propane grill, chairs, and many of the accompanying accessories for game day. Through his connections at Louisiana Downs, director of racing Mike Newlin has acquired a picture of Rachel Alexandra, signed by jockey Calvin Borel.

Other prizes to be offered include gift certificates from local merchants in both Lincoln and Columbus, works donated by artist Bob Jones, and racing memorabilia donated from the state s racetracks. Door prizes will be given out through the evening, with the grand-prize drawings to be done after the feature race.

* Friday will mark the changing of the guard in Lincoln as State Fair Park legally becomes Lincoln Race Course. The final three days of this meet will be operated by Omaha Exposition & Racing, which is owned by the Nebraska HBPA and also runs Horsemen s Park in Omaha and Horsemen s Atokad Downs in South Sioux City. By running the track for the final three days of the season, the HBPA will satisfy legal requirements that will enable the facility to continue offering simulcast wagering.

After this meet concludes, the facility will be run by the state fair board until Omaha Exposition & Racing permanently takes over the operation of the facility, including simulcasting, on Jan. 1, 2010, under a lease agreement with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The Nebraska State Fair will move to Grand Island in 2010 and the fairgrounds here will be developed into an innovation and technology campus for the university. The racetrack will not be affected.