The opportunity to watch — but not bet — on ostrich and camel races will highlight this weekend at Horsemen’s Park.

They will be run as part of Family Fun Day, the only Sunday of racing during the nine-day live meet. There will be seven races Saturday and seven Sunday, with first post at 2 p.m.

“Judging by the response we’ve been getting, fans are excited about those special races,’’ Horsemen’s Park General Manager Mike Newlin said. “If the weather cooperates, we’re hoping to draw 12,000 that day.’’

Newlin not only talks about those special races, he also will take an active part. He’ll be riding Mike Mike Mike in the camel race, while the other three camels will be piloted by jockeys.

“I’m undefeated in two previous racetrack camel races,’’ he said. “Hopefully I can win this one and retire with a perfect record.’’

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The general manager, who scored his previous camel victories at State Fair Park in Lincoln and the Meadowlands in New Jersey, said he has one simple strategy.

“To hang on and not fall off,’’ he said.

The camels will run after the sixth race. Newlin weighs too much to take part in the ostrich event, to be held after the third race.

“You have to be 120 pounds or less to ride an ostrich,’’ he said. “That leaves me out, and I’m OK with that.’’

There will be no pari-mutuel wagering on either of the special races. Five ostriches will go to the post and four camels.

Competing in the ostrich race will be Big Bird, Feather Bones, Chicken Legs, I Can’t Fly and By a Neck. The racing camels are What Day Is It, Cameltariat, Mike Mike Mike and Hump Day.

Family Day will include pony rides, face painting and a petting zoo. The track also will offer $1 hot dogs and sodas that day.

The $20,000 Roman Zipper Stakes will be run as the first race Saturday. The six-horse field includes Go Gold, a 9-year-old gelding who won the race last year.

Also in the field are LB Gold, Call Me Bubba, Be My Shadow, PR Cash King and Dee’s Luck. Be My Shadow, from the barn of trainer Marvin Johnson, is the early 8-5 favorite.

Newlin said he hopes for a strong weekend, especially with the lure of the exhibition races.

“We’re going to give the fans something they may never see again,’’ he said. “I hope that brings them out.’’


» Ralston Arena will have a free shuttle to Sunday’s races starting at 12:30 p.m.

» These will be the fourth and fifth days of the nine-day meet.

» Jake Olesiak leads the jockey standings with six wins. Alberto Pusac, riding at Horsemen’s Park for the first time this spring, is next with five.

» Marissa Black and Mark Hibdon lead the trainer standings with two wins each. Hibdon also is the leading owner with three victories.

» The hottest post positions so far have been No. 1 (five wins), No. 3 (four wins) and No. 7 (three wins).

Pat’s Picks

1st race: PR Cash King, Be My Shadow, Go Gold

2nd race: Primarily Gold, Smarty Party Papa, Judge Dixon

3rd race: Classy and Fast, A Bunch for Lunch, Ize Discreet Rose

4th race: Green Card, Blumin Irish, Diesel’s Prize

5th race: Mayhawk, Brother Who, R Gold Case

6th race: Irish Contessa, Cowgirl Judge, Holy Marie

7th race: Nebraska Chrome, PR Gold Money, Miss Justice

Best bet: Irish Contessa in the sixth.

Today’s flyer: Santorini Sky in the fourth.