05/11/2011 5:04PM

Lincoln: Next-to-last season of live racing begins


Lincoln Race Course begins its second full season of racing under the operation of Omaha Exposition and Racing on Friday night. The 32-day season runs through July 17.

The track received some welcome news in the state legislature earlier this week with the advancement of legislative bill 256. The bill would allow Lincoln to contract with another track to host its racing dates. Lincoln Race Course has a lease with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to use the facility here through 2012. Following that year, the track is scheduled for demolition as the University develops its Innovation and

Technology Campus. The property was formerly the home of the Nebraska State Fair, which moved to Grand Island last year.

Lincoln is facing a lack of riders as its season begins, with just nine jockeys on hand as of entry time Wednesday morning. Jordan Olesiak, winner of the title here last year, returns to defend his title. His younger brother Jake won the riding title at Fonner Park this spring, unseating his brother from the title there. The father-son duo of Luis and Jose Ranilla also return along with Armando Martinez, Chris Fackler,

Ashley Dill, and Karlo Lopez. Mike Luark rounds out the colony for this weekend before he departs for Minnesota’s Canterbury Park.

Several jockeys who normally ride in Nebraska are currently at tracks in South Dakota and Iowa, plus Canterbury Park, which opens May 20.

Although 10-horse fields are typically carded at Lincoln, fields will be limited to nine horses until the track has more riders.

Chuck Turco returns as the defending champ in the trainer ranks and will be joined by such Nebraska regulars as Kim Veerhusen, Steve Hall, Larry Staroscik, Dan Coughlin, and Dudley Graham.

While the wagering schedule remains unchanged from last year, Lincoln Race Course will offer 50-cent trifectas this year to go along with its 50-cent pick four.