horse racing

Personal Cat (blue) ridden by Dakota Wood and Dorothe Marie (green ridden by Nathan Haar come down the stretch April 2 at Fonner Park in Grand Island. Wood won five races on Wednesday last week at Fonner Park. (For the Independent/Jimmy Rash)

Like most jockeys, Dakota Wood will check out his horses for a card and pick out which ones he thinks have a good chance to win.

But when a race starts, he knows anything can happen.

“I do evaluate the races, but this track is a lot different than others,” Wood said of Fonner Park. “A different set of riders, a different set of horses. There are a lot of variables. You can plan and plan and plan, but once the gates open you know your plan can go down the drain and then you have to be able to improvise.”

Wood did the required improvising on Wednesday last week when he rode five winners at Fonner Park.

Wood got things started in the second race when he rode Flashin the Cash to a win for trainer Stetson Mitchell.

He followed that with a win on Peat and Repeate for Schuyler Condon in the third race. In the sixth, Wood guided Diva’s Diva to a victory for Hall of Fame trainer Larry Donlin.

If you bet Wood in the late daily double that day, you would have cashed in. He won on Kurious Kennedy for Mitchell again before ending the day with a victory on Emerald Point, who paid $25.60 to win, for trainer Andrew Bossung.

“I had a bunch of good horses in. I just take it a race at a time,” Wood said. “That’s about all I can say about that.

“The horses were firing for me, doing good. They were in a groove. I was in a groove. I rode all of (the races) so it took me until I sat down after the last win — did that just happen?”

The all-time record for wins in a day at Fonner Park is eight by Ken Shino on April 2, 2000, which tied a national record. Perry Compton won seven on Feb. 19, 2000. Several other jockeys have six wins in a day, including Jake Olesiak who is currently riding at Fonner.

Numerous jockeys— including Olesiak and Freddy Manrrique, have five-win days to their credit.

Wood has had a good meet at Fonner this year. He stands third in the jockey standings heading into the final four days of live racing with 41 wins behind leading jockey Armando Martinez with 63 and Jake Olesiak with 51

“I’m happy with it,” Wood said. “My main thing is when all else fails, I look back and I won 25 races last year. This year I’ve won 41 so that’s an improvement.”

Monday didn’t go as well for Wood. He had one third-place finish to go along with a second-place finish and that was all in seven races.

“It comes in waves,” Wood said. “You just keep trucking along and keep trying. The horses have bad days just like we do. You know you can’t win them all.”

Distinct Approval wins feature

Jockey Armando Martinez added to his win total by riding Distinct Approval to a victory in the Fonner feature race, a six-furlong affair for fillies and mares who had not won a race in 2020.

Distinct Approval, a 6-year-old Florida-bred daughter of With Distinction and Unbridled Approval, went to the lead early and stayed there. She was pressured by Dorothe Marie down the stretch, but held on to win by 3/4ths of a length in 1:14.60.

Distinct Approval, owned and trained by Michael Bollinger, paid $20.20, $5.80 and $3.80. Dorothe Marie paid $2.40 and $2.20 and Atoka Girl $4.00.

The win was worth $2,220 for Bollinger. It was the fifth win in 26 career starts and brings Distinct Approval’s total winnings to $45,625.


— Jockey Francisco Arrieta had two wins for the day. First he rode Miss Justice to a victory in the second race for trainer Mike Sorensen before bringing Natty Time from off the pace to win the fifth for trainer David Anderson.

— Martinez also had two wins. In addition to the win in the feature race, he teamed with trainer/wife Kelli to win the third race with Talk Big Money.

— The handle for Monday was $2,983,131. That’s the first time in 15 days of racing that the handle was less than $3 million.

— Five correct in the Dinsdale Pick 5 Jackpot paid $2,835. There was $87,995 bet into the Pick 5 Jackpot on Monday. That makes the carryover for Tuesday $35,182.

— There were no winning favorites on Monday. No winner in the eight-race card was less than 3-1 odds.

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