Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak is hoping to continue racing past April 1.
Fonner and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Society made an agreement to run two weeks of Monday through Wednesday racing.
“Our announced two-week trial concludes Wednesday, and at the end of that term I am hopeful we can continue on,” Kotulak said. “But I certainly cannot predict if we will last until the end of the established May 2 end of the meet.”
The first week ended Wednesday with $5.1 million in simulcasting dollars bet on the Grand Island track over the three days, but Fonner gets just 3% of that.
“We made enough this week to fund about 15 future races,” Kotulak said Thursday. “I know when figures in the millions are being thrown about it sounds great, but we only get a sliver of that.”
Kotulak said he had a discussion with the HBPA Friday about the possibility of extending the meet past this coming Wednesday.
“Last week we were able to scratch out enough to continue to fund purses and pay some bills, but I think we all understand that our future is based on hope,” Kotulak said. “That’s hardly a textbook business plan.
“It was a nice discussion today with the Nebraska HBPA.”
The racing industry, like everyone other industry in the country, is attempting to negotiate the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation.
Santa Anita in Arcadia, California, canceled its live racing Friday after instructions from the Los Angeles County Health Department.
That could happen at Fonner Park at some point if the spread continues.
As of now, Fonner is going ahead with racing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
“We had a two-week trial,” Kotulak said. “And we are in the midst of a two-week trial. Assuming we get to the end of the two weeks, then we’ll hopefully be able to continue.”
Kotulak said Fonner has also added an early pick 5 to their wagering menu beginning on Monday.
That will be a daily wager on the first five races of the day with a 50-cent minimum, but it will not be a pick 5 jackpot format like the Dinsdale Pick 5 Jackpot which will have a carryover of $167,743 going into Monday’s card.
“The Dinsdale Pick 5 Jackpot has made a name for itself and I don’t want to impede on its importance and attention, but there are new eyes and big money on Fonner Park nowadays and I want to accommodate the demand,” Kotulak said.