Horse racing starts in Aberdeen, continues on Memorial Day weekend

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In an attempt to capitalize on Memorial Day weekend, the pari-mutuel horse races in Aberdeen will run three days during May’s last weekend.

In previous years, the races were six days over three weekends, but Northeast Area Horse Racing elected to run five days over two weekends this year. The first two race days are this Saturday and Sunday at the Brown County Fairgrounds. They will run Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend.

It’s the first time Northeast Area Horse Racing has gone to five days since taking over the races 19 years ago.

“We elected to give up a weekend and hopefully that is the right decision,” said Mike Schmidt, the general manager of Northeast Area Horse Racing. “I think it will be.”

Memorial Day weekend is normally the biggest race days for the track. The hope is that running on Saturday will make it even bigger this year. The races ran just Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend in recent years.

“That Memorial weekend is such a huge day,” Schmidt said. “Sunday and Monday have been so big that we want to try to take advantage of that Saturday, too.”

Last year, the handle on the Sunday of the last weekend was $60,522 and Monday it was $52,842.

“On Memorial weekend, the crowds are just two or three times more and we don’t want to give that Saturday up or we at least want to see if can do better,” Schmidt said.

The new setup will give the horses, trainers and owners a two-week break after Fort Pierre finishes running on Sunday, May 8.

“We wanted to give the horses a rest between Pierre and Aberdeen,” Schmidt said. “So it was two weeks between them instead of they run week after week after week. We just thought we probably would get more entries.”

The first races are this Saturday at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

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What: Northeast Area Horse Racing.

Where: Brown County Fairgrounds on the northwest edge of Aberdeen.

When: Saturday and Sunday; weekend of May 28-30.

Time: Post time is at 1 p.m. each day. Betting windows open at 12:30 p.m. Betting seminars begin at noon in the clubhouse west of the grandstands.

Admission: Free.