Races go on at Fonner Park without spectators

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - For the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak, the races went on at Fonner Park.

Bettors watch the races take place from their vehicle.

Fonner Park and the Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Nebraska Thoroughbred Breeders Association are undergoing a two-week trial period to conduct no-spectator Thoroughbred horse racing.

"For the foreseeable future, there is some purse money for the horsemen," said Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak. "The bad news is, we have an empty grandstand behind me, as you can see."

The trial period of racing is to run through Wednesday, April 1. Racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with a 3:30 p.m. first post. A minimum of eight races are intended to be run on each race day. An assessment of the productivity of this venture will be made following the two-week trial term of six days of racing.

The empty grandstand makes it diffcult to make money at the park. Wagers are coming in from all over the world, but the park won't see much of that money.

"There is only a small fraction of the dollars that are wagered out of state that actually come to Fonner Park, and then we split that of course with the horsemen," said Kotulak.

You can still make bets from the track, but from the comfort of your car. To follow social distancing guidelines.

"We've opened up the parking to the apron area. So if someone has a M=Bet account, a legal account where they can bet via phone here at Fonner Park, then we will get some of that money trickling in," said Kotulak.

The Fonner Park website will be streaming all of the races live.