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  May be Only a Fon(d) Memory !     

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2020 Update: I love the Fonner Park meet, it's not a half miler, but the turns are tight, the jockeys wear post position silks, it reminds me of the old New England Fairs. The fact that they continue to run a stand alone meet is incredible. They did look like they were on the way to getting instant racing, but the courts put an end to that, at least for now. Hope things work out, so there are many more March meets in Grand Island. How do you get an island in Nebraska?    

Fonner Park is a five eights mile thoroughbred track that was located in Grand Island, which is about 100 miles west of Lincoln on I-80. It originally was an open air grandstand but is now a glass enclosed facility. A separate clubhouse was also added over time, as well as the Heartland Event Center and other exhibition centers. The Nebraska State Fair was moved to the Fonner Park Campus from Lincoln a few years back. Overall seating capacity for horse racing is 5,800 there is parking for 5,000 cars and the stables house 1,600 horses. Fonner Park offers simulcasting year round and Keno is also available.

Fonner ParkLadies Free Thursday

Fonner Park began operations in 1954 as a non profit agricultural facility. It is one of three remaining tracks in Nebraska. In the past decade attendance has declined from about eight thousand to eight hundred patrons a day. In the eighties Fonner had a purse level index of 4, which today has grown to eight, which makes it about the lowest in the nation.

When Ak-sar-ben suddenly disappeared, Fonner Park became Nebraska's largest track, and even with the gloom and doom you have to give it credit. For over fifty years it has sprung to life in February, to kick of the long anticipated Nebraska racing season. The track that has endured blizzards and tornados, closes out the year with the Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes, the richest race in Nebraska.

Garret Gomez, one of the leading riders in the country, apprenticed at Fonner Park in the late eighties.

The 2013 meet at Fonner Park went off as scheduled, but the odds keep growing that racing at Fonner or for that fact, Nebraska itself will be able to continue for much longer. The state does have Native American Casinos, but appears in no way, to be interested in any kind of racino format that would help out the tracks. As for racing itself it was a family affair for the riding title again. Jake Olesiak beat out brother Jordan by 2 wins, regaining the title, Jordan took away a year prior.

Well finally a track in Nebraska that I have been to. Unfortunately there was no racing going on when I passed through, but it's more than I saw anywhere else in the state.