After hinting at the prospect last week, Fonner Park has announced its intention to continue racing through the month of May. One of just a handful of tracks currently holding Thoroughbred racing–without spectators–the Nebraska track's meet was scheduled to end Apr. 29. It will seek approval from the Nebraska State Racing Commission for a second meet, which would begin Monday, May 4 and end May 31.
“While no spectator racing continues to be conducted at Fonner Park under COVID-19 precaution and prevention guidelines, the continuation of racing is still very much a day-to-day prospect,” said Fonner CEO Chris Kotulak. “The ability to continue racing with minimal national and global wagering opportunities has cast a bright light on Fonner Park. There has been a chunk of mutuel handle on the Fonner Park races, but money bet out-of-state only represents a chink of revenue compared to money bet on-track.”
He continued, “Fonner Park operates on a wickedly narrow profit margin. What might seem like a successful spell of handle one week might only equate to survival or even a deficit another week. We cannot be swooned by sexy handles this year when we have to consider purse money for 2021 and the hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses and repairs we face annually. Another important financial factor is that once other tracks return with their racing, the mutuel handle on Fonner Park will drop. My goal is not simply to make hay this year. I have a responsibility to Fonner Park, the horsemen and the city of Grand Island, Nebraska to remain viable for many years to come.”
The Nebraska State Racing commission has a meeting scheduled for Apr. 22.