Fonner Park will continue to race Mondays through Wednesdays for the remainder of its Thoroughbred race meet.
The track’s request to shift its race days throughout April was approved Friday in a one-hour Nebraska Racing Commission conference call. The request received unanimous approval from the five-member board.
The commission had granted Fonner’s request two weeks ago to move its dates from Friday-Sunday to Monday-Wednesday on a trial basis. That request was made in part because Fonner has little racing competition nationwide early in the week.
Because of strong simulcasting mutuel handles, track officials wanted to keep those days.
“The two-week trial basis went well enough,’’ Fonner CEO Chris Kotulak said. “It hasn’t been a raging success but it’s been greater than our expectations.’’
Kotulak added that even with simulcasting revenues that grew one day to $2.8 million, Fonner only receives a small percentage of that money.
“Never did we pay for one day of live racing,’’ he said. “We’ve been able to scratch out what we could to pay the purses.’’
Still, Fonner has been able to continue racing.
“We felt it was feasible for us to move forward,’’ Kotulak said. “We want to give the horsemen the opportunity to maintain their livelihood.’’
Because of coronavirus concerns, Fonner’s races have been held the past few weeks in front of an empty grandstand.
There also was a concern voiced by a commission official about the Fonner paddock area and the possible need for increased social distancing. Kotulak said changes will be made, which will include preventing owners from the area and a greater distance between horses being saddled.
Fonner also received approval from the commission to race 30 days, instead of its allotted 31. Inclement weather and a temporary shutdown because of COVID-19 concerns affected its schedule.
The track’s final live race day will be April 29.
Racing returns at 4 p.m. Monday.
The new late pick 4 starts on Monday. The Dinsdale Pick 5 Jackpot will pay out on Tuesday and begin anew on Wednesday.