09/02/2008 11:00PM

Three-day meet caps season


SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. - The last hurrah for Thoroughbred racing in Nebraska this year takes place this weekend at Horsemen's Atokad Downs, which will hold a three-day mini-meet geared toward horses that have raced in the state this season.

Atokad Downs, formerly known as Atokad Park, closed in 1998 due to financial struggles. The Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association bought the property and reopened it in 2001. Atokad Downs, located in the state's northeast corner about 90 miles north of Omaha, is modeled on the same operating principle as Horsemen's Park in Omaha and holds a short festival meet each year that satisfies the state law to offer year-round simulcasting.

Since 2004, the meet has lasted three days and closes out the live Thoroughbred racing season in Nebraska. A one-day Quarter Horse meet on Sept. 13 is the last official day of racing in the state when Fair Play Park in Hastings offers a two-race card.

The six-race cards at Atokad Downs offer minimum purses of $10,000 and range up to $15,000 for statebred allowance company. The opening-day card drew overfilled fields in four of the six races. A $6,500 claiming race at the Atokad course distance of about 6 1/2 furlongs is the feature race Friday. Track-record holder Hot Jelly Jam should rule the favorite in a field of seven.

Ranilla, Anderson win Columbus titles

Jockey Luis Ranilla strung together a streak of eight straight racing days with at least two wins, capped off by a four-win day last Sunday, to capture his first riding title in the state as Columbus finished out its 24-day meet. The win streak boosted Ranilla to a final margin of 34-26 over Jesus Ponce.

David Anderson won 14 races to earn his seventh consecutive training title at Columbus, edging Bill Isburg ,who had 11 wins.

Mutuel handle declined this year, with average daily ontrack wagering on the live product at $51,977 compared to $55,297 a year ago. The sale of the signal to other tracks in the state and out of state also was down, with an average of $29,314 being wagered offtrack this year compared with $31,401 in 2007.