Ak-Sar-Ben Racing History
Year by year.
1919-First harness race held, (July 6th).
1920-Race track completed. Tunnel built to bring cars into the infield. Stables completed.
Grandstand completed. Judges and timers stands added. Track dedicated on September 14th.
1921-Inaugural race meeting held on opening day, June 2nd. First stakes races: King's Derby, Kings Cup, and Queen's Plate.
1922-Jockey's room added.
1930-1934- No Racing.
1940-First eight race card held (May28th). New electric starting gate added. (First in the midwest). All ramps to grandstand widened. Beautiful horticultural area added.
1943, 1944, No Racing. (WWII).
1945-Racing resumed after war. All individuals in uniform admitted free.
1946-New speed tote board added.
1947-Race passes offered to members of Ak-sar-ben in lieu of Coronation or Ball tickets.
1948-Bus terminal moved to east side of grandstand. New roads constructed to every barn. Three general comfort stations added with showers. $5,ooo Brandeis Handicap added.
1952-Six acres of parking added. 2,000 aluminum stadium seats added to the grandstand.
1954-Tubular underpass added from the infield into the grandstand. Semi-outdoor paddock added.
1955- Paddock buffet added. Paddock standing ramp in use for 400 persons. Video-film patrol in use for stewards to review the race. Horsemens cafe added.
1956-New 14 gate starting gate added.
1957-5 Close circuit televisions available to race patrons. Grand concourse completed.
1958-Nine-race card introduced on holidays.
1960-First million dollar purse season in Ak-sar-ben history. Nine-race card introduced on Saturdays.
1962-Expressway added off 72nd street.
1964-Nine-race card introduced daily.
1966-First $50,000 race run. Cornhusker Handicap(June25). Nebraska Hall of Fame established with M. H. Van Berg as first inductee.
1968-Alpha-Numeric display board in use.
1969-Paddock buffet remodeled. Video replays now shown on closed-circuit television.
1970-Post time changed to 4 p.m. on Tuesday & Friday, and 2 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday. Concession stands refurbished. Exacta program added.
1972-624 seats added to the grandstand in front of the finish line.
1973-Six new barns added.
1974-First $100,000 race run-Cornhusker Handicap (July6). Color added to closed-circuit television. Opening of the Ak-sar-ben clubhouse. Three exactas added daily.
1975-Ak-sar-ben racing celebrates 50th anniversary. Grandstand seating expanded to 10,000.
1976-1,500 seats added to the grandstand. Ten races introduced on Saturdays & Holidays.
1977-Racing surface rebuilt.
1979-First $150,000 race run-Corhusker Handicap (July 14).Clubhouse expanded from 700 to 1300 seats.
1980-All Betting & Cashing (ABC) system introduced. Minimun Exacta wager dropped from $3 to $2.
1981-Four Exactas introduced on Saturdays & Holidays. Complete backside (barn area) completed in fenced-in security area. New Mercy Road gate completed.
1982-New jockeys quarters added. Entire Racing card cancelled (May 19) for first time in Ak-sar-ben history due to condition of track following torrential rains. Racing surface completely reworked following conclusion of meeting. South tunnel to infield replaced. Over 1,000,000 fans
attend races during season (first time over million mark).
1983-Corhusker Room addition opened. New Safety rail installed. Racing meet extended to 85 days. New Alpha board installed.
1984- Pick Six (Ak-Pic-Six) wagering introduced. Seven Breeders' Cup Premium Awards stakes held. Slow-motion video replay introduced. New Turf Garden Eidophor installed.
1985-Two new barns built. Track kitchen expanded. Sunday racing introduced, with racing Wednesday through Sunday. 50th Anniversary of Thoroughbred racing at Ak-sar-ben (under current pari-mutuel law) celebrated.
Eight Breeders' Cup Premium Awards stakes held. Four new stakes run.
1986- $7.5 million modernization project completed. Cornhusker Handicap becomes richest race in Ak-sar-ben history with a purse of $250,000.
Ak-Pic-Six rules changed to include consolation payoff if six winners are picked. Ak-sar-ben faced with competition for the pari-mutuel wagering dollar as Bluffs Run dog track opens in Council Bluffs.
Trifecta added to program on last race of each day. Races are declared "official" before weigh-ins in order to speed up day's 9 or 10 race card.
1987-Don Drew is named Ak-sar-ben executive director. New training track completed immediately west of the stable area. Major renovation work done on main race track. Longest meet in Ak-sar-ben history
scheduled-April 29 through August 29 (89 days).
1988-Children's playground added at east end of grandstand (no age restriction for entering track if accompanied by an adult). Ak-sar-ben and others tracks in the state of Nebraska enter
an intrastate simulcaasting agreement. Pic 3 wager is introduced.
1989-Ak-sar-ben introduces out-of-state simulcasting with fans being able to wager on such races as the Kentucky Derby. Table top televisions aded to Clubhouse. Winter out-of-state simulcasting begins with races from Fair Grounds (LA.).
1990-Ak-sar-ben is faced with more competition as The Woodlands opens in Kansas City, Kansas. Legislation is passed which will gradually impose pari-mutuel tax on racetracks.
1991-Black Tie Affair wins Cornhusker Handicap and goes on the win the Breeders' Cup Classic. He is voted Eclipse award as Horse of the Year.
Mutuels, picnic areas and volleyball courts are added to the infield. Season long promotion "Own a Piece of the Doc" involves fan ownership of all-time Nebraska-bred leading money earner, Who Doctor Who. Inaugural Nebraska Breeders' Sweepstakes on closing day.
1992-The Knights of Ak-sar-ben sell Aksarben racetrack to Douglas County one day prior to opening day 1992, and the track is now operated under the heading of "Douglas Racing Corporation." It's Silent becomes the first two year old in the history of Ak-sar-ben to be voted Horse of the Year. AKsarben simulcasts
races to Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, and to The Woodlands in Kansas City, Kansas, for entire meet.
1993-A seven furlong chute was built on Southeast turn of the track adding versatilty to the number of distances for races. The Who Doctor Who Stakes, honoring the famous Nebrasks-bred now retired,
was inaugurated. Link, who won the Cornhusker Handicap is his only race at Ak-sar-ben, was named Horse of the Year.
1995-Unknown to nearly everyone, this was Ak-sar-ben's last year.
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