Nebraska horsemen Robert "Red" Lee, who was the key figure in launching Horsemen's Park in 1998 in Omaha, died Nov. 26 in Silver Creek, Neb. He was 88 years old.
After the 1995 closing of Ak-Sar-Ben, Lee, as president of the Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, led the charge to build Horsemen's Park just four miles south of the former racetrack. Horsemen's Park is still owned by Nebraska horsemen.
"Without Bob, we probably wouldn't have racing in Nebraska," said current Nebraska HBPA executive director Lynne Schuller. "When Ak-Sar-Ben closed in Omaha, everyone thought that would be the death blow to racing. He made something out of nothing.
"Bob went and got a loan based on the simulcast figures at Ak-Sar-Ben and really nothing else. He got the loan to build Horsemen's Park in Omaha."
Lee served as president of the Nebraska HBPA for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the Nebraska HBPA Hall of Fame and was named its Man of the Year in 1999.
Lee was known across the country for his contributions to the racing industry. He was inducted into the National HBPA Hall of Fame and his picture stands in the Kentucky Horse Park.
Born July 7, 1928, in Burton, Neb., Lee started his horse career at the early age of 16. He was a jockey for many years before becoming a trainer and owner. Lee was a trainer for Wood River Stables for several years before starting his own business. Lee and wife Gertrude traveled all over the country to race Thoroughbreds. Some of the top horses trained by Lee include stakes winners Mr. Eldag and Naturerburg.
A funeral service is scheduled for 3 p.m. (CST), Monday, Nov. 28 at the Silver Creek Methodist Church with Rev. Murry Jay Johnston officiating. Interment will be in the Silver Creek Cemetery. Visitation will be from 1-3 p.m. Monday at the church.