05/09/2012 2:40PM

Lincoln begins final season of racing until new track is built


LINCOLN, Neb. – Live racing in Nebraska shifts to the capital city as Lincoln Race Course opens on Friday for a 29-day season that will mark the end of live racing in Lincoln for the next few years.

The track, located on the former state fair grounds, has been operated by the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association since the state fair was moved to Grand Island in 2010. The property here is now owned by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is being developed into an innovation and technology campus. The barn area and several buildings are to be razed later this year as the development continues.

The Nebraska HBPA announced last week that they had reached an agreement to continue simulcasting in the grandstand here into the summer of 2013 as construction begins on a new simulcast facility in the southwest part of Lincoln. The HBPA recently sold Atokad Downs in South Sioux City and is in the process of buying a parcel of land for the simulcast facility and a new one-mile track that eventually will be built.

Many of the regular riders and trainers remain on the circuit. Chuck Turco returns as the two-time leading trainer and Jordan Olesiak is the two-time defending leading rider. Both won their respective titles this year at Fonner Park and are expected to be strong favorites at this meet, which runs through July 8.

The meet has been shortened by one weekend as Horsemen’s Park in Omaha will conduct two weekends of racing this summer instead of one. The schedule change has resulted in the $15,000 Speed Stakes being shifted to opening night instead of its traditional Saturday spot. The 4 1/2-furlong dash will pit Turco’s Reach One More against Milton Gaede’s Song of Humor in a field of nine older horses.

Song of Humor won his seasonal debut in the Grasmick Stakes going a half-mile at Fonner Park on Feb. 25 and has been second or third in all four of his starts this season. As a 3-year-old last year, Song of Humor won both the Journal-Star Stakes and the Lincoln Derby here.

Reach One More was second in his last start at Fonner Park on March 24 and tuned up with a strong three-furlong work last Saturday at Fonner in a bullet 35.60 seconds. Reach One More is a perfect 5 for 5 over this track.