Prairie Meadows is gearing up to launch its 67-day thoroughbred meet on Saturday, April 18th. This will be the 26th season of racing at the Altoona, Iowa, oval. Thoroughbred racing concludes on August 8 with Iowa Classic night.
The highlight of the meet again promises to be the Iowa Festival of Racing on Friday June 26 and Saturday June 27.
The festival features the Grade III $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (2014 winner: Carve) at 1 1/8 miles for three-year-olds and up on Saturday June 27.
On Friday June 26, the festival begins the feature races being $100,000 Saylorville (21014 winner: Dancin’ Lil) for fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, at 6 furlongs, the $100,000 Iowa Distaff (2104: Diva’s Diamond) for fillies and mares, three-year-olds and up, at 1 1/16 miles, and the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap for three-year-olds and up at 6 furlongs, captured in 2014 by Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Gr 1) Champion Work All Week.
On Saturday June 27, all three festival races carry Grade III status, with the $200,000 Iowa Oaks for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the $250,000 Iowa Derby for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles preceding the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap.
In 2014 the Oaks and Derby both produced big upsets as Size upset Ria Antonia in the Oaks and Jessica’s Star upended Vicar’s in Trouble in the Derby.
All races are contested over the track’s dirt surface. Prairie Meadows does not have a turf course.
Owner Danny Caldwell, who won 40 races here in 2014, expects to have at least 30 horses stabled at Prairie Meadows at the beginning of the meet. Caldwell, in winning his first Prairie Meadows leading owner title, broke the eleven-year reign of local owner Maggi Moss.
Trainer Ray Tracy, Jr. saddled 49 winners from 272 starters last season and figures to be strong and competitive again in 2015. Tracy earned his second Prairie Meadows title in 2014 and his first since 2000.
Jockey David Mello, the leading rider at Prairie Meadows for each of the past two seasons, rode 100 winners from 461 mounts in 2014, making him the first to hit 100 wins in a season and setting a new track record for wins by a jockey in a single season.
Post times for the meet are 6:30 PM Thursday – Saturday and 1:00 PM on Sundays. Special post times during the season include 4:15 PM on Kentucky Derby Day (May 2), 4:45 PM on Preakness Day (May 16), 5:00 PM Belmont Day (June 6), July 3rd and 4th. Two Wednesday nights of racing are scheduled as well, June 15 and August 5th, post time is 6:30.