05/08/2007 11:00PM

Lincoln State Fair draws familiar faces

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The second leg of Nebraska's racing season opens Friday as Lincoln State Fair begins a 37-day meet that runs through July 15.

Racing is conducted on a Friday through Sunday basis in May, then shifts to a Thursday through Sunday schedule beginning June 7. Additional racing days include Memorial Day on May 28 and Wednesday, July 4. Post time is 6:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays and holidays. The Saturday night post will be a shift from last year when the track raced during the afternoon.

Fans will be greeted by a new infield tote board sponsored by the Nebraska HBPA. The horsemen's group contributed $50,000 to the $110,000 cost of the new Daktonics information center.

Yuri Yaranga is returning from Ohio to defend his leading rider title and is joined by most of the same colony from a year ago. Among the returnees are this year's Fonner Park champion Dennis Collins and R. D. Williams, winner of the title here in 2004 and 2005 plus several titles earlier in his career.

Other Fonner jockeys who will ride at Lincoln are Beth Butler, Joel Sherman, and John Pabon. Jerry Carkeek, who suffered a broken collarbone in a spill after the start of a race on closing weekend at Fonner, is expected to return late in the meet.

David Anderson has put together a string of five straight training titles here and will again be the one to beat with his large stable. Marv Johnson has split his sizable barn between here and Canterbury Park and will be joined by regulars Dan Coughlin, David Grimes, Brian Roberts, and Larry Staroscik from last year's leaders.

The purse structure this year is identical to 2006, with a bottom purse of $5,000 and ranging up to $10,500 for higher-end allowance company. The Memorial Day feature is the $20,000-added Big Red Mile, which anchors a schedule of 13 stakes races. Two-year-olds take center stage for the biggest purse of the meet, the $25,000-added Capitol City Futurity at six furlongs on closing day. Distance horses get their due with the Nebraska HBPA marathon series, which concludes at 1 5/8-miles on July 4 for a $10,000 purse.