Fonner Park Adds Racing Dates

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Fonner Park | Fonner Park photo

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Fonner Park's race meet will now extend 12 additional dates through the month of May after a 5-0 vote on the matter by the Nebraska Racing Commission Wednesday.

When COVID-19 health restrictions were enacted in March, Fonner began conducting spectator-free racing while shifting its traditional Friday through Sunday racing schedule to Monday through Wednesday to fill the simulcasting void left by closed tracks nationwide. The meet was to have ceased Apr. 29.

“We have a condition book that's already been written and is on standby for a Monday-through-Wednesday basis and a continuation of a 4 p.m. (CDT) post time,” Chris Kotulak, Fonner's chief operating officer, told the commission via teleconference prior to the vote.

“There was only a small consideration about the potential of us maybe running on a Saturday should no other racetracks come online,” Kotulak said. “That is only a small consideration, and it seems like maybe if tracks, particularly in California, would be coming online in May. So I would consider it a strong likelihood that we would stay the course with this present form of racing.”

The nation's current Thoroughbred racing landscape consists of Gulfstream Park (scheduled to run through Sep. 27), Oaklawn Park (closing May 2), Tampa Bay Downs (scheduled through May 3, but with an application pending to extend the meet), and Will Rogers Downs (currently racing through May 20).

“This is a very good development for, not just racing in Nebraska, but racing across the country,” commission chairman Dennis Lee said after the vote, noting that the meet extension is also beneficial to the health of the horses stabled at Fonner.

“We've got uncertain times now, and we're doing the best we can at Fonner [and] the HBPA. Everyone involved in Nebraska racing is really stepping up and doing an outstanding job.”

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