WarHorse Casino hoping to restore Omaha’s status among horse racing elite

Omaha's new WarHorse Casino is working to return horse racing to what was Horsemen's Park.
Published: Nov. 3, 2023 at 5:24 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The start of sports betting was the big gaming news in the city this week. WarHorse Casino officially added ten betting kiosks to simulcasting on its temporary site.

But gaming officials want to point out that the sports of kings will not be left out.

The construction of Omaha’s WarHorse Casino is running full speed ahead, but officials are working to build a betting attraction outside of the unfinished walls.

Horse racing at Aksarben was at one time a national attraction, drawing tens of thousands of fans to watch some of the best horses in the region run. But over the years, Nebraska’s best have scattered to other tracks across the country.

“All of the top trainers used to live and run here,” said Lynne McNally, the CEO of the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. “They’re in Arkansas now, they’re in Kentucky, Florida, California. We would love for the people that want to be able to come home, to come home, and be able to make a living here.”

In order to get those horses to run back to Omaha, they’ll need to run toward more money at the finish line.

“Once the casino revenues start flowing and we get those purses up, get them healthier so people can make a living here, that’s when you see us start getting the horsemen back here,” McNally said.

Right now, the track at WarHorse in Omaha is in a construction zone, but in a couple of years, there are plans to get the ponies running, adding to the action at the track in Lincoln.

“The Nebraska HBPA is hoping to get 60-80 days between Lincoln and Omaha going,” McNally said. “That would take up from the Spring well into the Fall. That’s really the long-term goal.

The long-term plans also call for grandstands and luxury seating.

It may not be returning to the glory days of Aksarben, but it will bring local horses back and make live horse racing a major player in Omaha’s betting game.