10/23/2013 2:02PM

Nebraska Racing Commission approves 51 dates for 2014


Nebraska’s 2014 racing season will mirror the 2013 schedule, with 51 days approved by the Nebraska State Racing Commission at its meeting in Lincoln on Tuesday.

Fonner Park leads off the season with 31 days of racing from Feb. 21 through May 3. Horsemen’s Park in Omaha will offer its three-day weekend festival from May 9 through May 11. Columbus Exposition and Racing will pick up after a summer break in the schedule with a 16-day meet from Aug. 1 through Sept. 1.

Lincoln Race Course opened its new simulcast facility on Sept. 27 as phase one of its development of the 120-acre site that will include a one-mile track and grandstand. Lincoln’s simulcast parlor offers a full service restaurant and sports bar. The facility has over 230 television screens, including 32 large screens.

Lincoln Race Course was granted one racing date for 2014 – the exact day is still to be determined – as work progresses on the new race track. Commission Ccairman Dennis Lee told the Omaha World-Herald that “the track should be ready for some kind of racing by late 2014, and Lincoln is still hoping to have its track completed by 2015.”

Lincoln hosted a single race in January of this year at its former location on the old state fairgrounds property north of the downtown area. That property is now owned by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is in the process of being developed into a technology campus. A trio of Thoroughbreds went one furlong down the stretch in that race, which satisfied state law and allows Lincoln to conduct simulcasting at the new facility through 2014.

Also granted is the traditional one racing date at the Quarter Horse track Fairplay Park in Hastings.