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Fonner “Buzz” for March 12


March 12, 2015     E-mail this page to a friend!

From Steve Anderson, Fonner Park

While nursing a toothache, sore lower-back, and a bruised ego from another sad night in the Fonner After Dark bowling league, here's a sampling of the backside-buzz that was gathered as I made my rounds this week at the track:

--Ken Shino returns this weekend to the local jockey colony, fresh off the heels of a winter season down at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston. It's the second consecutive year Shino has ridden at Fonner following a 14-year absence. Agent Steve Noll has lined up four mounts on Friday's card. Shino's sitting on a milestone-performance as his next win puts him at 2,500 career race-riding victories accumulated over the past 29 years. Shino still holds the Fonner record for most wins recorded on a single card (he won 8, including 7 straight) back in 2000. That lofty figure is also a national record, matched by Grand Island native R.D. Williams and the immortal Pat Day.

--Is it just me, or did anyone else notice the eerie silence coming from Barn A in regards to the season debut by Diamond Joe in last weekend's $25,000 Ogataul Stakes? The 6-year- old Nebraska bred son of Dazzling Falls had dominated the Ogataul over the past two seasons, but "Joe" ultimately finished third, behind Nick-A-Jack and Bach's Homebrew. One veteran scribe observed, "Perhaps we've said and written everything there is to know about Joe."

Trainer Chuck Turco doesn't buy-in to the whispers that Diamond Joe has reached a crossroads in a career that's netted over $321,000 in earnings. "I appreciate more than anybody the coverage he's received. But there's going to be a lot more to write about him in the future. Right now the Bosselman's not on our radar. We plan on running in the Tondi, the Dowd Mile, and a race in Omaha. If he does something spectacular along the way.....maybe the Bosselman will come back into focus."

--Speaking of being on the mend, trainer Steve Hall reports he's doing terrific since having a kidney removed just a couple of weeks ago. Hall's youngest sister, Maureen Poppel, is donating one of her kidney's, with the transplant expected to take place in a month or so. Hall has suffered with kidney problems for over three years, but says he's been extremely fortunate not having to go on dialysis. He credits Dr. Bill Landis for saving his life with the original diagnosis or, as Hall proudly states, "I wouldn't have been around last weekend celebrating Just Hank's victory in the Fonner winner's circle." Just Hank is part of a four-horse stable, currently under Hall's watchful eye.

--Thoughts and prayers go out to several of our Fonner family, including Claus Jons, Don Ladd, Lee Ecoffey, and Larry Donlin.

----Jons, a longtime trainer and farrier on the Nebraska racing circuit, battles with a comeback resulting from a severe stroke suffered outside Mead, Nebraska, on the Roger Pelster farm. A tribute and special blanket presentation were made in Jons' honor following the sixth race last Sunday.

----Retired trainer Ladd is recuperating from a broken leg, and has been conspicuously absent from his normal perch located right next to the Fonner paddock. Stepson Robert Hoffman, also a trainer, confirms that Ladd has been layed up in Omaha, but is supposed to make an appearance this weekend at Horsemen's Park, and expects him to be back in Grand Island by late April.

----Ecoffey, son of Paddock Judge and identifier Fred Ecoffey, is in a Rapid City, South Dakota hospital, suffering from pneumonia. Lee spent many years galloping horses in the morning while working as a crew member on the starting gate in the afternoon.

----Trainer Donlin, who claimed his first race horse in 1972, is off to a fast start- notching one win and a couple of thirds in only three starts. But, it's the health of his wife, Maureen, he's most concerned about. She suffered two brain aneurysm's during the off-season and as the veteran campaigner sums it up, "Maureen's doing as good as can be expected."

--Finally, today is my dad's (Jerry Anderson) 87th birthday. Just this week, Pops went in for an annual physical and got a clean bill of health. The Doc says his heart's never been stronger. Dad, if you can find just a little bit of time in your busy schedule, please join me in my world. There's plenty to celebrate, and what better place is there to be.....than at the races!