For Immediate Release, March 06, 2014

Steve Anderson's Column - Jockey Ken Shino

Make no mistake about it, when it comes to facebook, twitter, ipads and smart phones.....it's all Greek to me. Social media has left this one-time, broadcast journalist in the dust.

Good news travels so much faster these days. Within minutes, perhaps even seconds, after jockey Ken Shino posted on "Friends of Nebraska Racing" that he's returning to Fonner Park to ride, my cell phone started buzzing. The laptop computer almost vibrated off the kitchen counter with email and voicemail backing up into the clubhouse turn.

Instinctively, this ol' man's knees began to shake; my arms commenced to flap. So much so, I thought I was back at Boot Scooters Dance Hall in Hot Springs, Arkansas, leading a line-dance troupe into battle.

Yes, for the umpteenth time, you can come home again.

Following a 14-year absence, Ken Shino will hang his tack at Fonner Park in Grand Island, sight of this 47-year-old jockey's glory years, and will ride out the balance of the 2014 meet.

"I just decided to get closer to my home (in Iowa) and my family (in Merino, Colo.)," said Shino, who's currently enroute from Sam Houston Race Track, located in South Texas, where he applied his trade over the winter months.

Shino was a household name around these parts back in the late 90's, winning three consecutive riding titles just here at Fonner Park alone, from 1997-99.

His career peaked on April 2nd, 2000 when he rode eight winners on a single Fonner card, tieing a national record that still stands today. Grand Island native R.D. Williams had already reached that lofty standard at State Fair Park in Lincoln, along with the immortal Pat Day, who owned Oaklawn Park in the 70's and 80's.

And yet, it was a race he didn't win that memorable afternoon which sticks so vividly in his mind. "Everything was going right that day," recalls Shino. "I was going for nine wins, and thought I had it when Perry (Compton) came along and caught me at the wire...(silence)....by a nose."

Shino's renewed interest in Fonner can directly be linked to numerous phone calls he'd received by several local trainers, encouraging him to return to central Nebraska. Jockey agent John Mehring, 61, agreed to take his book, and has lined up three rides on Saturday.

Ironically, Mehring is making a comeback as well, following a 25-year absence from the Nebraska racing circuit. His list of clients over the year's reads like a Who's Who in the local thoroughbred history books, representing Dean Kutz, Don Pettinger, Alan Hill, Tom Greer, Alan Patterson, Wayne Anderson and R.D. Williams, just to name a few.

Mehring also spent time as a state racing official and worked for a short while for Hull and Smith Horse Vans. He says, point-blank, "I'm following a path laid out by God. When one door closes, another opens....and look forward to my return to horse racing.....it's family here."

Shino and Mehring. A match made in heaven? I can hear that phone starting to hum already.
Feb. 21 - May 3, 2014

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