Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele has canceled live horse racing at Fonner Park for this year until further notice.

Steele said he realizes how much of an impact the decision will have on horse owners, trainers and employees. So it was a very difficult decision, he said.

But he is trying to discourage people from gathering in groups when it’s not really necessary.

Steele realizes how important horse racing is to Grand Island and its history. But given the national emergency posed by the coronavirus pandemic, he feels it’s necessary to close the horse track until further notice.

“We’ll just have to see how the coronavirus plays out in our community,” Steele said.

Fonner Keno will continue, as will off-track betting. The Finish Line bar and restaurant will remain open,

Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak said the cancellation of racing will be a burden for hundreds of people, but he understands and respects the mayor’s decision.

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