Nebraska’s Fonner Park Delivers A Snowy Opening Weekend Of Racing

Fonner Park in Grand Island, Neb., took a page from the United States Postal Service manual, when it adhered to the USPS motto of: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Heat certainly was not an issue and the only gloom present was what hung over the foreboding weather forecast.

The opening day program on Friday, Feb. 22, was conducted over a fast track but with temperatures hovering just below the freezing mark; the following day, however, presented far more challenging circumstances. After protracted deliberations and considerations, Fonner Park officials, management and horsemen took it upon themselves to interpret the weather radar, gamble – and race. The Saturday spectacle of racing wasn’t quite like the Iditarod – but it was close. When all the dust and snow had settled by the end of the three days of racing on Sunday, all of the scheduled 26 races were conducted, and all over a fast track.

The above average temperatures in January that blessed training efforts plunged significantly to produce record lows in February.

Despite the meet beginning with a stumble out of the gate, due entirely to Mother Nature, jockeys Jake Olesiak, newcomer Jorge Carreno and journeyman Armando Martinez collaborated to win 20 of the first 26 races.

Trainer Mark Hibdon, who finished fourth in the 2018 standings with 15 wins, amassed five wins within the first three days. Kelli Martinez had four wins and four seconds from 12 starts. And 13-time Fonner Park leading trainer David Anderson picked up three wins.

“The wicked whim of Mother Nature knocked us off stride, but the fortitude of the Fonner horses and horsemen won the weekend,” said incoming Fonner Park chief operating officer Chris Kotulak. “Now we have some catching up to do. But I’m confident in the community of Grand Island and Central Nebraska will show their always impressive support of the Saturday races.”

New this year at Fonner Park is the Fridays At 5! promotion, billed as “Nebraska’s Most Ridiculous Happy Hour.” For $10, guests receive five hot wings, two 16-ounce beers and a $5 betting voucher. And Sundays have become $1 Family Days with $1 hot dogs, sodas and popcorn; plus a free petting zoo.

Racing continues on a Friday through Sunday basis through May 4, with 2 p.m. CT first post Friday and 1:30 on Saturdays and Sundays.

The post Nebraska’s Fonner Park Delivers A Snowy Opening Weekend Of Racing appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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