Archives for May 12, 2020

How Sports-Starved Bettors Made Fonner Park Must-See TV

Jake Olesiak’s transformation starts at 8 a.m. after he punches out from his overnight shift at an ethanol factory. His steel-toe boots go into the trunk, as do his mask, face shield and hard hat. Black riding boots come out, then the goggles and finally his Minnesota Vikings ball cap.

Behind the wheel is his wife, Megan. For the next two hours, Olesiak, 32, tries to sleep with his hat pulled down over his eyes as Megan drives the S.U.V. westward from Firth, Neb., to the meatpacking town Grand Island, with little besides cornfields and the interstate to keep her company.

Check out Art Parker’s piece for AGOS – Essential Business from last month.

Olesiak, a production supervisor at E Energy Adams, which makes fuel from local grain, is considered an essential worker. He is more than that at Fonner Park, a tiny jewel box of a horse track in the heartland. He is a money rider, perennially atop the jockey standings.

Olesiak has won more than 1,000 races and has nearly $7 million in purse earnings. He has dreamed of riding in the Kentucky Derby, and for a decade, he pursued it full time. He has hung his equipment, or tack, in jock rooms in the Dakotas, Iowa, Ohio and Canada.

But soon after his second daughter was born, he decided to take a full-time job and ride the boutique Nebraska circuit …

Live horse racing returns to Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico on this Date

Heavy COVID-19 precautions Will be in Place

With COVID-19 putting a halt to sports worldwide, horseracing is one of the few that has continued and Ruidoso Downs is one of just six tracks in the country that are currently open. They’ll hold the Triple Crown of quarter horse racing this summer.

“We’re lucky and we take it very serious,” said trainer Blaine Wood. “We have to keep everyone healthy and safe.”

They’ve taken extensive precautions to do that. Face masks and gloves are required, as are health screenings prior to entering the track.

Out-of-town jockeys will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and isolated from other riders. There’s also protocol in place if someone were to test positive for the coronavirus.

“If a person on the backside were to test positive, everyone in that barn would be required to leave and quarantine for 14 days and be required to test negative before they came back,” said Jeff True.