Fonner Park in Nebraska looks set to continue staging horse racing this spring after carrying out a two-week ‘trial period’ experiment over the last month.
During the trial period, the track staged races on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and track CEO Chris Kotulak was very pleased with the way events transpired.
The track now plans to host events throughout April, despite many other tracks across the USA shutting down in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic.
“It exceeded our expectations because we did not expect as many other tracks to cancel racing,” Kotulak told the Grand Island Independent.
“So the limelight that we believed we were moving into just got a lot brighter than we expected.”
Fonner is now one of just two American tracks hosting racing in the early part of the week.
The track has been popular with race goers too, bringing in record handle numbers during the trial period.
It even added an early Pick 5 to its betting schedule, such was the upswing in demand.
The post time at the track will now be 4pm local time (5pm Eastern). This will help to keep the track’s schedule separate from the racing at Will Rogers Downs.
It looks likely that Fonner Park will now host racing until at least May 2, given the success of the trial.
Fonner Park set a record for parimutuel handle on March 23. Despite the record takings that day, the track was still facing an uncertain financial future.
“With today’s all-time record mutuel handle of $1,340,047, we have funded only four future races, plus we did not even cover our expenses for our weekly racing operations payroll. It’s a sobering thought but I’m not surprised,” said Kotulak at the time.