ATOKAD Park horse racing

Jockeys urge their horses down the track at Atokad Park in South Sioux City last year. The Ho-Chunk Inc.-owned horse racing track will host three races Saturday, tripling the number from last year's reopening event.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal file

SOUTH SIOUX CITY — And they’re off— again.

Atokad Park will host three races Saturday, a little more than a year after the horse racing facility reopened under the ownership of Ho-Chunk Inc., the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s economic development arm.

Alexcia Boggs, director of development for Ho-Chunk, said they increased the number of races this year after listening to patrons who attended last year’s single-race event.

“That was probably one of the only things people commented on; they had a great time last year — lot’s of excitement — but they wished it was more than one race,” she said. “So we’re going to step up our game a little bit.”

Although races won’t start until 3 p.m., the track will host a slew of family friendly games and activities starting at 1 p.m., which includes bounce houses, face painting, pony rides and more.

“We are going to look at possibly a live band as well to have some background music going,” Bogg said. “We will have lots of TVs and we’ll have football games on … until the racing starts, of course.”

Atokad dates back to 1956. Like other Nebraska thoroughbred tracks, Atokad fell on hard times starting in the 1990s as casino gambling was introduced in neighboring Iowa.

Ho-Chunk purchased Atokad in 2016 with the hopes of eventually turning the property into a casino. However, an effort to amend Nebraska’s constitution to allow casino gambling at horse tracks failed to garner enough signatures to make the ballot last November.

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