Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino announced the schedule for live racing in 2016 today.
The biggest change this season will be the Iowa Festival of Racing becoming a three-day event. The Festival will cover Thursday June 30, Friday July 1, and Saturday July 2, with two stakes races on each of the three days with a graded stake on each card.
The $100,000 Saylorville (L) and the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (Grade III) are scheduled for Thursday June 30, the $100,000 Iowa Distaff (L) and the $250,000 Iowa Derby (Grade III) are set for Friday July 1, and the $100,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap (L) and $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (Grade III) are slated for Saturday July 2.
Prairie Meadows will run a 67-day Thoroughbred season. Opening night will be Thursday April 28 and Iowa Classic Day on Saturday August 13 will close the Thoroughbred season.
Thoroughbred racing will be held Thursday through Sunday. Exceptions to the regular schedule are afternoon cards on Memorial Day, Monday May 30, and Independence Day, Monday July 4, and also Wednesday evening programs on June 15 and August 10. Post time on Thursdays and Fridays will be 5:30 PM CT, one hour earlier than last season. On weekends racing will begin at 1:00 PM CT. This is a significant change from 2015 when Saturday racing began at 6:30PM.
The 26-day Quarter Horse meet will start the weekend following the close of the Thoroughbred meet on Saturday August 20 and conclude with Championship Day on Saturday October 15.
Highlights on the Quarter Horse calendar include the Prairie Meadows Regional Challenge Finals on September 17, topped by the $65,000-added Prairie Meadows Regional Championship Challenge (Grade II), and Championship Day on October 15, which will feature 4 open stakes races and 4 Iowa-bred stakes races with combined purses of an estimated $850,000.
Quarter Horses will run on a Friday through Sunday schedule with the exceptions being opening weekend with racing on Saturday and Sunday and then there will be a Thursday evening card on October 13.