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Lincoln Race Course races

Lincoln Race Course held the first of two days of racing Friday at the track in southwest Lincoln.

The first race of Sunday's two-race card at Lincoln Race Course was over in less than 20 seconds and finished in a dead heat.

It didn't seem to matter too much to those who turned out for the rare live meet.

After all, more races are promised next year, the races will last longer and a dead heat will become less likely with the track's planned extension. 

Currently Lincoln Race Course can only host one-furlong races and its live meet amounts to doing what is necessary to fulfill requirements for simulcast wagering at the 500-seat venue. But once the track is lengthened, six-furlong races, the benchmark distance in Nebraska, will become possible.

The extension has been a longstanding goal for Omaha Exposition and Racing President Craig Wulf. On Sunday, he spoke of the anticipation and excitement accompanying the lengthened track.

"For our horsemen and our fans, I think it will be a lot more exciting to see a race on a full racetrack," he said. "Everybody wants that, and that's what we've been working toward. It's nice to finally get to that point."

In August officials announced plans to build a ¾-mile track to be completed next summer. An extended live racing meet would be the first in Lincoln since 2012.

Wulf said officials are hopeful the longer track will generate interest in the wagering complex located in southwest Lincoln and the state's horse racing industry as a whole.

"I just think it gives us some hope for the future, about what we've got coming here," he said. "It just shows the public and maybe around the country that we're trying to come on with something different and move forward with our industry here in Nebraska."

For Randy Kreifels, a Lincoln resident, horse racing has been a favorite pastime since he was young. This weekend be brought his grandson to the track for the first time. He hopes that the track can take advantage of the expansion and attract more fans.

"Horse racing has been around for centuries. It's the sport of kings," he said. "Seems like we've got a great opportunity here for young kids to enjoy the pageantry of horse racing and just the fun of it."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or wstone@journalstar.com.

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