Fonner Park to run horse races with no spectators for two-week trial period

Fonner Park to run horse races with no spectators for two-week trial period

Horse racing

Jockeys race to the finish line at Fonner Park on opening day in 2012.

Horse racing at Fonner Park will continue.

Amid the COVID-19 breakout, the Grand Island track is putting in place a no-spectator trial period, which will begin Monday and run through April 1.

Fonner Park, Nebraska Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Nebraska Thoroughbred Breeders Association announced the change Thursday.

Horse racing at Fonner Park also will move from the weekend to a Monday-Wednesday schedule. A minimum of eight races are intended to run on each race day.

The racing facility will be closed to spectators. However, individuals with a current Nebraska horse racing license who are directly involved with a horse that participates on race day are permitted into the facility.

"Currently horse racetracks in our nation are either closed or operating with a no-spectator adaptation of racing," Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak said in a statement. "My primary concern is the uninterrupted care of the horses in our stable area, and a continued opportunity for their caregivers to maintain a livelihood through racing and the distribution of purse money from racing."

Those interested in placing a wager in Lincoln are able to do so in a variety of methods, including five self-service machines and two program kiosks at Lincoln Race Course (7055 S 1st St). Wagers can also be placed at the window. The facility is operating within the city's 10-person event limits. 

The Nebraska State Racing Commission board granted permission Thursday night to allow interested parties to place their wagers further in advance to accommodate the event size limits. Prior to the revision, wagers were only allowed one hour before the race. 



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