05/11/2004 11:00PM

Lincoln State Fair track report

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LINCOLN, Neb. - Lincoln State Fair opens its doors Friday evening for a 34-day stand that runs through July 11.

The Nebraska State Fair, which has been facing financial difficulties for several years, is in a pivotal year as the fair board awaits November's election results. Former general manager Pat Lloyd left the state fair this spring, and shortly afterward the Nebraska Legislature placed an initiative on the ballot that would earmark a portion of lottery proceeds to fund the state fair. Joseph McDermott has assumed the role of interim general manager.

Horse racing at the fair has received a purse supplement of about $275,000 from the state's Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. Through simulcasting profits at Horsemen's Park in Omaha, the HBPA has been able to subsidize purses at all of the state's tracks. Lincoln's purses will be at or above the levels offered by Fonner Park this spring.

Former riding champions R.D. Williams and Greg Schaefer are additions to the jockey colony, which should number near 20 riders this year. Returning champion Jerry Carkeek joins former champion Armando Martinez, plus Dennis Collins, Don Frazier, Alonzo Guajardo, Mark Anderson, and Dan Beck. Scotty Nguyen and Alex Granda will return to the state for this meeting and are joined by newcomers J.R. Dailey and Terry Bennett.

Defending champion trainer David Anderson is back from a 30-day suspension and will have a powerful barn. Joining him as regulars on the circuit will be Marv Johnson, Gene DeRoin, Herb Riecken, Gordon Hansen, and Dan Coughlin.

* Sonic West, winner of the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes, was named horse of the meet at the recently concluded Fonner Park meet, and the three-horse stretch run of the Bosselman earned it race of the meet honors. Thundering Verzy was named top 3-year-old, with Shesaidsheknowsya as top 3-year-old filly.

Burning Memories and Southern Alert shared top older filly or mare honors, and Tonight Rainbow was named both sprinter and older horse of the meet. Watch Me Dazzle was named the meet's top claimer.

At a glance: Lincoln State Fair Park

RACING SCHEDULE: 34 days; May 14 through July 11; dark Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except Memorial Day (May 31); Thursday racing on May 20, June 10, 17, 24, and July 8.

POST TIME: 6 p.m. Central weekdays; 2 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

ADMISSIONS: General, $1.50; clubhouse tables, $3.50 per person

PARKING: Free

LOCATION: 1800 State Fair Park Drive, Lincoln, Neb., 68501; South on 27th Street Exit of I-80.

SIMULCASTING: Wednesday through Sunday

PHONE: (402) 473-4110 (general office, weekdays); (402) 473-4205 (reservations)

INTERNET: http://www.statefair.org/index.asp