The Nebraska State Racing Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of a 12-day extension that will begin May 4 and run through May 27. The additional 12 races bumps Fonner Park’s season total to 43. Fonner Park’s season was originally scheduled to conclude on April 29.
But despite public health restrictions amid COVID-19 — most notably, no spectators in the grandstand — the track has seen a jolt in nationwide wagers after adjusting its original schedule in late March.
Fonner Park is one of only five tracks around the country holding races, the track’s wagering figures through simulcasting have received a big boost. Since March 23, the all-sources mutuel handle on Fonner Park has risen to a daily average of $2,836,904. However, Fonner only receives a fraction of the simulcast revenues.
Fonner Park will continue to run three day per week on a Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday schedule. The track also will continue to run races without spectators.
The Nebraska State Racing Commission also approved Horseman’s Park request for a waiver that would allow the Omaha track to maintain race day simulcasting in 2021. For a track to be eligible to simulcast national races, it must run at least one live race in the prior year. Horseman’s Park, however, recently canceled its May 8-24 season because of the coronavirus and the attached public restrictions.
Lincoln Race Course also was in line for a waiver request during Wednesday’s meeting, however, the commission decided to hold off on a decision until it becomes clear if Lincoln can run its scheduled event. Lincoln Race Course is slated to run live races June 26-28.