Though Ak-Sar-Ben has been shuttered since 1995, the Nebraska oval is still remembered fondly by those who grew up in the shadow of its grandstand. Thanks to the brainstorming of Jockeys' Guild employee Deborah Moss and Perry Compton, as well as several others who grew up in Nebraska racing, Horsemen's Park in Omaha will play host to a number of jockeys from the glory days of Ak-Sar-Ben in a charity luncheon benefiting the Permanently Disabled Jockey's Fund on July 28.
“Racing in Nebraska, especially Ak-Sar-Ben was very special,” Moss said. “It is clear that the glory days at Ak-Sar-Ben and in Nebraska have not been forgotten… On Derby Day I got the great privilege to sit with Allan Hill and Mike Smith and talk about riding together in Nebraska. What great memories and stories they had. Pat Day also had fond memories of Ak-Sar-Ben; he won his 3000th race there. It was just such a great catalyst for so many great horsemen.”
Preceding the national PDJF day on Saturday, the Friday charity luncheon will include a Q&A session with all the attending riders and a commemorative signed poster. Attendees are also welcome to bring personal memorabilia for signing. Tickets to the event will be sold for $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at Horsemen's Park or Lincoln Race Course, or by contacting Cindy Curran at email@example.com or 402-305-7591.
For individuals who are not able to attend the luncheon, the group of retired jockeys as well as Horsemen's Park's current riders will be available for a public autograph session beginning at 5:30 p.m. to coincide with the evening's race card, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. The Ak-Sar-Ben/Nebraska Jockeys commemorative poster will be on sale for $25, and PDJF gear, including hats and t-shirts, will be on offer through the evening's last race.
Jockeys planning to attend include Wayne Anderson, Donnie Frazier, Fred Ecoffey, Allan Hill, Robert Dean Williams, Perry Compton, Tim Doocy, Gary Houghton, Scott Gallimore, John Lively, Randy Meier, Norman Ladd, Dennis Baxter, Lori Taylor, Bobby Cordova, Jody Piper, Jayme LaRocca and Jimmie Jordan. The complete list of attendees is still being finalized, with several Hall of Famers having expressed interest in the event.