Chris Kotulak

After a Year to Remember, Fonner Park Returns Friday

In 2020, America discovered Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska. With COVID-19 raging, Fonner was one of a handful of tracks able to soldier on in the months of March, April and May, producing handle numbers that shattered anything they had done before.  Jockeys, trainers and horses who had been toiling in obscurity for years were thrust front and center, their every move covered by TVG. Fonner was a feel-good story at a time when those were in short supply. The little track is back. Fonner's 2021 meet begins Friday,...

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Curtain Comes Down on Historic Fonner Park Meet

As the meet was winding down Wednesday on the final day of racing in 2020 at Fonner Park, trainer Kelli Martinez was getting ready to ship her stable to Prairie Meadows. The Fonner meet was a good one for Martinez, who was second in the standings entering the day with 35 winners, and she was in no hurry to leave. It wasn't just the winners, it was the memories that she would be leaving behind. "It was a stressful meet but it was a very different and very successful year...

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Fonner Park Adds Racing Dates

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...

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Fonner Park to Seek Additional Racing Days

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...

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Fonner Park Meet May Be Extended

Fonner Park, the Grand Island, Nebraska track that has seen record handle over the last several weeks, may stay open past the scheduled shutdown of the current meet. Horsemen and track management are in talks to extend the meet through the month of May. Currently, the meet is scheduled to end Apr. 29. "We are currently in talks with Fonner Park in hopes we will be able to run there through the month of May," said Nebraska HBPA President Bob Moser, Jr. "I am optimistic. We've had really good discussions...

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#FreeDataFriday – Volume 29: Let the Stewards Speak

The general lack of racing around America in light of local restrictions due to the impact of COVID-19 has focused the attention of customers on a select number of races at any one time. A natural byproduct has been collective social media outrage at a pair of stewards' decisions which demoted winners, once Sunday at Oaklawn Park and another on Tuesday at Fonner Park. This is not a story about the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's suggestion that North America should shift its rules philosophy to the international standard--known as Category 1....

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Little Fonner Park Soldiers on in Face of Coronavirus

Perhaps the most off-the-beaten-track in horse racing, Fonner Park sits isolated in Grand Island, Nebraska, unknown to most horseplayers and having to get by without any casino subsidies. Yet somehow it has survived, racing every year since it opened in 1954. The goal now is to make it another 36 days. As one track after another announces the cancellation of live racing due to COVID-19, Fonner is still going. Considering the obstacles, that doesn't seem possible, but horsemen and management came together last week with a plan they hope will...

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