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Horse Park rides into a season of success

Friday afternoon was an eerie display of North Dakota weather, with skies clouding over and high winds coming down across the prairie.

Yet, Friday night, the faithful at the North Dakota Horse Park were enjoying the second weekend of yet another successful season at the track, just north of West Fargo on Ninth Street East and 19th Avenue North.

Saturday and Sunday were clearly the gems of the weekend, however, as fans of the ponies basked in the sun and watched the horses run.

"We're seeing some really good crowds again this year," Rob Lynch, general manager of the North Dakota Horse Park, said. "The fans are really making this a great place to be on the weekend."

Lynch and his crew have done their job, moving the track into new phases of construction. Additional housing for the horses has been created. There are temporary and permanent stands for the crowd. And the on-site betting is easily accessible.

And the quality of competition has been solid. Last weekend, jockeys like Joel Olesiak and Mark Luark showed their mettle, riding multiple horses to wins.

Friday and Saturday, Olesiak rode three different winners, placed once and showed once. Saturday, he was at it again, riding four more winners, edging Luark on one occasion and falling behind him on another.

Sunday, it was Luark's day, as he rode four different horses to wins. But, not to be outdone, Olesiak finished in the winner's circle, too, including taking the biggest purse of the day. He captured the $2,500 race for 3-year-olds to close out the day, riding Max's Ace to victory over Luark's Cool Composure.

At the track's "nicest weekend by far," fans were treated to 85-degree temps on Saturday and cool, 75-ish temps Sunday. It was a far cry from last weekend, when trainers kept a close eye on the horses as 100-degree heat rained down on the track.

"We'll take more of these," Lynch said.

Races continue this Friday with the gate at 5:30 p.m. Races on Saturday and Sunday start at 1:30 p.m. Lineups can be found in The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead sports section each day before the race.