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Opening Weekend 2022

Opening Weekend 2022               February 17, 2022

Fonner Park

Grand Island, NE

Fonner Park begins its 2022 Thoroughbred season on Saturday, February 19th with a first race post time of 1:30 p.m.  The 69th consecutive year of horseracing in Grand Island offers 37 days of racing rather than the customary 31-day, eleven-week meet. The Nebraska Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association requested that Fonner Park pick up additional days in order to compensate for the lack of horseracing being presented in Omaha and Lincoln in 2022. “Fonner Park is no stranger to supporting horsemen with a lengthy race meet and a stable area that is open from December through May,” said CEO Chris Kotulak. “We had intended to offer a purse increase this year but stretching purse money from 31 days to 37 creates too much uncertainty.” All five Thoroughbred racetracks in Nebraska are planning to construct casinos which will boost purses across the state, but all await final approval from the governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Also new this year, Fonner Park will become the only racetrack in North America to offer the Omni bet.

Known as a swinger bet in racetracks abroad, the wager is essentially a show quinella. A bettor must correctly select at least two horses to finish in the top three placings. A two-horse Omni bet has three possible winning combinations: 1st & 2nd  or  1st & 3rd  or  2nd & 3rd.  “We know there will be some initial interest and if there is sufficient action we’ll keep it,” said CEO Chris Kotulak. “We all don’t have the same tastebuds, and any chef will tell you that items don’t make it to the menu unless you try them first as a daily special.” The wager startup cost was sponsored and presented by Pat O’Neill, a Fonner Park director and local business owner. 

David Anderson, a 15-time leading trainer at Fonner Park has been prepping is horses on track since December and appears to have his stock ready to race and win. Jockey Jake Olesiak won his 7th local riding title in 2021 and is a favorite to repeat in 2022. The track’s iconic race, the Bosselman / Gus Fonner Stakes will again have a $75,000 purse; the race is run annually the final Saturday of April and is slated for April 30th. Fonner’s closing day typically is the first Saturday in May, which is always the day of the Kentucky Derby. Fonner Park will conclude its 37 days on Preakness Saturday, May 21st.

Dinsdale Automotive is the presenting sponsor of the Dinsdale Dashers Camel & Ostrich Racing for Charity on Sunday, March 27. T-Rex Racing is part of the annual Runza Family Day the Saturday before Easter. Selected race fans will race for charities while wearing T-Rex costumes. And Fonner BARK debuts on Sunday, April 24th when dogs (on leash) will be allowed on track. The day will include a costume contest and tricks competition. Sunday Family Day will continue with $1 hot dogs and $1 pop served from 1 – 3 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday post times are 1:30 p.m. Friday first post is 2 p.m., beginning March 18th first post is 3 p.m. and the final two Fridays in May will start at 4 p.m.

Contact CEO Chris Kotulak


[email protected]