04/01/2009 12:00AM

Fonner Park: Fackler on the rise

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Chris Fackler has had little problem making the leap from apprentice to journeyman jockey. Two weeks after losing his apprentice allowance, Fackler enjoyed one of the top weekends of his career last week and is challenging for the lead in the rider standings at Fonner Park.

Fackler rode a triple on March 27, then scored back-to-back four-win days on Saturday and Sunday to trail Jesus Ponce by a 32-29 margin. Damon Leeds, who sat out the weekend with a riding suspension, is tied with Mike Ziegler for third with 24 wins. Ziegler posted a four-win day Saturday, capped off by a mild upset aboard Reach One More in the Baxter Stakes.

Bill Kennedy, trainer, dies

Trainer Bill Kennedy died at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island, Neb., on March 27 after being in failing health the past few weeks. Kennedy, 77, was a regular on the Nebraska circuit since 1993 when he retired from ranching and turned to training Thoroughbreds.

Kennedy maintained a modest but consistent claiming stable, and posted 128 wins from 1,308 starts. He won the 2002 Stevens Handicap at Columbus with Kinda Gotta Wanna and the Skunktail Stakes at Horsemen s Park in 2005 with Will Rein.

Kennedy is survived by his wife of 51 years, Beverly, five daughters, and a son.