05/07/2008 12:00AM

Lincoln's future uncertain


State Fair Park in Lincoln, Neb., opens its 37-day meet Friday under the most uncertain of conditions. The track is located on the state fairgrounds, and the long-term future of racing in Nebraska's capital city is in limbo following the approval of legislation earlier this year that will move the state fairgrounds beginning in 2010 to Grand Island, where Fonner Park is located.

Officials with State Fair Park, the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln have a handshake agreement for live racing to remain at the present site for three or four more years, while the university begins developing the 250-plus-acre fairgrounds property. The Nebraska HBPA is looking to build a new facility in Lincoln during the interim, as Lincoln represents the second largest population center in Nebraska.

Mike Newlin is Lincoln's new mutuel manager and director of racing. Newlin, formerly of Canterbury Park, has been heavily involved with coordinating advertising and promotions in Lincoln as well as giving the plant a facelift. He also has gotten the simulcast signal into at least 20 new outlets this year.

The biggest promotion of the year comes on Preakness Day when there will be ostrich and camel racing at the track. The spectacle has been a success at many tracks throughout in region.

A family area and playground has been added at the west end of the grandstand. On the opposite end of the stands, the paddock has been updated and will feature pre-race analysis and predictions with host Angela Hermann.

Post time is 6:45 p.m. Central on weekdays and 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays.