04/16/2008 12:00AM

Fackler latest hot apprentice in Nebraska


Apprentice jockeys have seldom been a very hot commodity in Nebraska, but the state has been producing its share of successful riders in recent years with Channing Hill, Tanner Riggs, and Dylan Williams all getting their starts on the Nebraska circuit.

The latest promising apprentice, 17-year-old Chris Fackler, enjoyed his best weekend of the Fonner Park meet with a riding triple last Saturday and two more wins on Sunday to move into the top 10 in the standings with 15 wins.

Fackler and Preto Espindola are the only apprentice riders at Fonner this year and Fackler has been doing a steady business all through the season.

Dylan Williams, who had 27 wins as an apprentice here last year before going on to ride in California, Minnesota, Iowa, and Kentucky, returned home last Sunday on his way to prepare for the Prairie Meadows meet that opens Friday.

Williams, 17, lost his apprentice bug earlier this year at Oaklawn Park, and finished sixth in the standings there with 30 wins. He also picked up a winter riding title at Turfway Park in Kentucky.

Channing Hill was the first of the new group of apprentice riders to find success after a local beginning. Hill got his first rides at Columbus and Prairie Meadows in Iowa three years ago before making the successful move to the New York circuit, where he continues to thrive. Hill came through town on Easter weekend and picked up a win locally.

Tanner Riggs, who was second in the standings last year with 44 wins, enjoyed a very successful meet at Hawthorne and returned there this spring. He is currently second in the Hawthorne standings with 26 wins, one ahead of 4,000-plus career winner Terry Houghton.

* Legislation that will move the Nebraska State Fair to Grand Island in 2010 was passed by a 45-2 vote Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Dave Heineman is tentatively scheduled to sign the bill into law at Fonner Park in Grand Island at 11 a.m. on Friday.

The state fairgrounds in Lincoln will be turned over to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, which will eventually mean the end of horse racing there. Horsemen have a verbal agreement with the university to continue racing at State Fair Park until 2012.