SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. — A new track in South Sioux City is planning to host a brief three-horse race in order for the Winnebago Tribe’s economic development corporation to maintain its racing license.

Alexcia Boggs, development director for Ho-Chunk Inc., told the Sioux City Journal ( ) that state officials will allow the company to race only three horses Saturday since the 65-foot-wide track was recently completed.

“We have to get it broken in and make sure everything is running smoothly for the first year,” Boggs said.

Ho-Chunk bought the former Atokad Downs in 2012 with the hope of developing a $30 million to $40 million casino at the site.

This summer, Ho-Chunk and the Nebraska Horseman’s Association financially supported pro-gambling group Keep the Money in Nebraska’s efforts to gather more than 120,000 signatures to place an initiative to legalize casinos at Atokad and other Nebraska horse tracks on the November ballot.

Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale’s office rejected 31,600 signatures as invalid, leaving supporters well short of the number of required signatures.

“We are still moving forward with our Plan B,” Boggs said. “We are trying to continue the effort to expand casino gambling in Nebraska. We are still surprised and shocked and trying to evaluate ourselves internally on what things went wrong.”

In the meantime, the track must hold at least one live race in 2016 to maintain the racing license Ho-Chunk received from Nebraska earlier this year.

The free event will include pony rides, a bounce house, a balloon artist and face painting. Temporary facilities will be used for the race to take bets and serve food and beverages since the old grandstands have been torn down.

Information from: Sioux City Journal,