Earlier this week, live racing with spectators was suspended at Foner Park because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as of Friday, Racing will resume on March 23 first-race post time will be 3:30 p.m. each racing day. Kotulak, Fonner Park CEO, said he wanted a post time as late in the day as possible to take advantage of a wider audience in the late afternoon and early evening around the nation.
Fonner Park, the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent Protective Association (HBPA) and the Nebraska Thoroughbred Breeders Association (NTBA) have come to an agreement to allow racing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays the next two weeks without fans on a trial basis.
The official stated that “We were in a real rush to try to secure the agreement today. We have to take entries Friday so our entries can be in the (racing) form on Monday,” Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak said. “That was paramount for us to get that accomplished so we can be in national eyes. The fortunate thing was that multiple parties had the same interest and that is to continue on with our racing product and a chance for people to earn money and pay for the care of their horses.”
Those national eyes will be important. With very limited betting at Fonner, the races will depend on money generated from fans wagering around the country.
Racing Monday through Wednesday is an effort to take advantage of a scaled-down racing scene on those days.
“The days of the week are days that are less congested by the signal of bigger tracks such as Gulfstream, Oaklawn and San Anita,” Kotulak said. “We knew we would have a better chance for market share earlier in the week. Strange as it is, our immediate competition is now Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma, just outside of Tulsa. They have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday racing scheduled at 1:30 so we want to try and jump in at the end of their card and have our own presence.”
Individuals with a current Nebraska horse racing license directly involved with a horse that participates on race day are permitted into the facility for that specific race only. Designated areas will be defined, and additional new policies will be established.
Nebraska racing fans can watch the racing action at fonnerpark.com.