History of AK-SAR-BEN Horse Racing
This website is created to celebrate one of mid-America's best thoroughbred racetracks, once known as, AK-SAR-BEN. Located in Omaha, NEBRASKA, AK-SAR-BEN reached its peak in the early 1980's, rated as one of the premier race places in the midwest. In 1983,AK-SAR-BEN ranked #9 in the NATION for average daily attendance, with 13,655.
The very first race EVER run at AK-SAR-BEN was on July 6th, 1919.It was a very informal HARNESS race. At this time AK-SAR-BEN, was attempting to become part of the Great Western Circuit, that consisted of the cities , Des Moines, IA., Springfield, Ill., Minneapolis, MN., and Sedelis, Missouri.
Harness racing was very popular in America at this time. And the very FIRST winner at the new Ak-SAR-BEN race track was a horse named, 'FRANK L', driven by Syracuse, Nebraska's, EARL BEEZLEY ,who won by a nose over,'SADIE ARCHDALE'. Some of the spectators actually thought the latter horse won. I wonder if they had photo finishes back then??
On September 14th, 1920, as a capacity crowd of 8,500 gathered in the AK-SAR-BEN field. The Govenor of NEBRASKA, S.R. McKelvie and the City of OMAHA, officially dedicated the AK-SAR-BEN Racetrack. Costs estimated at $1,000,000. Trotting, pacing and running races were held September 14th-17th. Four harness and two running races were held each day. Nearly $15,000 was distributed to the winners. Admission was 85 cents.
TheNEW GRANDSTAND. was fully erected in 1921 at a cost of $400,000 and in April, Govenor McKelvie signed a bill in which he created a Racing Commission and a new law allowed para-mutuel wagering for the first time. By 1923, purses reached $137,000.
On May 13th, 1945, a crowd of 6,500 watched as racing RESUMED, after a two year absence, due to World War II, and never stopped, UNTIL August 7th, 1995. When racing stopped forever.
Most racing fans here in Nebraska are still saddened by the sudden demise of Ak-SAR-BEN. What happened?? Was it a result of a political maneuver that none of us could change!! AK-SAR-BEN was sold to Douglas County (Nebraska), and eventually CLOSED. The only thing standing in the wake of all this tragedy, is the once proud GRANDSTAND. And most who drive along 72nd & Pacific Sts. cannot help but feel a sense of nostalgia and anguish over what was once the horse racing track called, "AK-SAR-BEN".
This website will review some of the History of AK-SAR-BEN horse racing. It will show some of the leading Trainers, Jockeys, Owners and Horses who participated and helped to make AK-SAR-BEN so successful for nearly 80 years. You wil be able to HEAR & SEE 'LIVE' race recalls. I created this site because I love horse racing. We must NEVER forget AK-SAR-BEN, and try to keep the memories and 'spirit'alive. I can only hope that this site will allow people to learn and most of all, to relive AK-SAR-BEN'S great tradition. If anyone has anything they would like to add to this site, such as pictures, stories,or advice to improve it, please e-mail me. Because this site is for ALL racing fans. ENJOY!!
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