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Lincoln Race CourseLincoln Logo

It's easier to say what Lincoln Race Course was rather than is. Lincoln Race Course started out at the State Fairgrounds in Lincoln. It started out as an open air grandstand that at some point was replaced with a modern two level facility with an open air grandstand on the lower and a glass simulcast area on the upper level. Seating capacity was 5,380. The stable area could hold 1,200 horses. A few miles down the road from the old fairgrounds sits the site of the new Lincoln Race Course, which for now has a restaurant with simulcasting. 

Racing in Lincoln has been around since the late forties. At that time it was known as State Fair Park. Since Nebraska was cut down to three tracks Lincoln ran late spring to mid summer, between the Fonner and Columbus meets. During the 2011 meet racing in Lincoln received some bad news.

The 2011 meet went off as scheduled, with Jordan Olesiak defending his riding title. During the meet it was announced that 2012 would be th last year of racing at State Fair Park. The lease on the track was up and the owners, The University of Nebraska were going to demolish the site for school usage. 

Lincoln Race CourseLincoln Logo

In 2012 the horses took to the track for the last time. The tracks name was changed to Lincoln Race Course and Jake Olesiak replaced his brother Jordan as top jock. In late afternoon on July 8th, Mood Winner, was the last horse to get his picture taken at the Lincoln oval, or was she? It seems the old fairgrounds had one race up her sleeve.

To satisfy Nebraska law, that to simulcast, a live race must be run on that track the folk's at Lincoln got creative. They ran what I'll call the "frozen tundra race"(see chart). On January 8th 2013, with the track being dismantled around them, three brave horses and riders were loaded into the starting gate. Most of the track was covered in snow, except for a short part of the stretch which plowed out looked like frozen chunks of mud. A couple of hundred die hard fans were on hand as the gate opened. Thirteen seconds later the earliest and shortest race that anyone in Nebraska could remember, was over and technically a new riding champ was crowned. Jose Ranilla broke the Olesiak streak when he became the leading rider for 2013. There was betting on that race, around $2,500 was wagered somewhere. This time racing was done for sure, but what is the future for Lincoln Race Course.

Just down the road a piece from it's former site, a new Lincoln Race Course is trying to get off the ground. It looks like some sort of structure was built and their website advertises a bar and grill and simulcasting. As for a real racetrack to go with it, that seems to be up in the air. Well in another year they know they can plow up a couple of furlongs of dirt, put a starting gate out there and have another race.

Well it's a year later and they did just what I said above, but they outdid the tundra race this time. On the afternoon of September 4, 2015 on a hastily constructed track they ran their required live race date, featuring another one furlong affair. All went well till the end of the race when second place finisher Husker Ridge decided he was cheated and needed a little more than one furlong. After the finish he ditched his jockey and took off into the woods. He must be a miler cause that's how far he got before he stopped. Both horse and jockey came away without injury.

I never made it to the old Lincoln Fairgrounds track, but I think I would try to make the next yearly save simulcasting race, they should probably market it like groundhogs day. If a horse comes out of the woods there's simulcasting for one more year, if not oh well! Unfortunately this may never happen again, the track being built hinges on approval of instant wagering, the question was supposed to be on the ballot in November of 2014. The industry suffered a setback when a Nebraska Court ordered it off the ballot on some legal technicality seems like Lincoln Race Course may never be a reality.