Prairie Meadows will kick off its 24th
year of racing with a 66-day meet this Friday night. The Des Moines, Iowa oval will run four days a
week with a 6:30 PM post time Thursday through Saturday and Sunday racing will commence at 1 PM.
Regular jockeys Terry Thompson and Alex Birzer should vie
for top rider. Trainers Chris Richard, Chris Hartman and local horseman, Dick
Clark will contend for leading trainer. Chip Woolley Jr., trainer of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, will also have a string of runners. Richard’s biggest client, Des Moines native Maggi Moss, will attempt to
win her record-setting 11th owner's title.
The meet is highlighted by the Iowa Festival of Racing (June
28 & 29) with the Iowa Derby, Oaks, Distaff, Sprint and Cornhusker Handicap. Last year,
Fort Larned defeated Successful Dan in the Cornhusker before victories in the
Whitney Handicap and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Even the 2011 2-year-old champion,
Hansen, made the trip north to take the Iowa Derby in blowout fashion.
Moss’s big horses, Delaunay and So Many Ways, have bigger goals
in the immediate future, but she “would love to see both of them here for our big
races. “ Delaunay is scheduled to make his next start on Derby
day in the G2 Churchill Downs Handicap, and So Many Ways “might” make her next
start in the G3 Eight Belles Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard.
For racing fans that do not follow the action at Prairie
Meadows, it is a 1-mile dirt oval with no turf racing. The track most resembles
Monmouth Park with sizzling summer temperatures and race times. Just like
Monmouth Park, horses on the inside part of the track with early speed dominate
Another plus for fans of racing in the Hawkeye state are the
low takeouts. Prairie Meadows offers a 50-cent pick 5, 2 50-cent pick fours with a low 15-percent takeout
on every card and is still one of the only states where the minimum show payoff
is $2.20, making it a popular track for “bridge jumpers.”
Though Prairie Meadows is a racino with slot machines, table
games and a poker room, it is quite fan friendly that is welcoming to families.
The paddock area provides up close views as horses get saddled and the track
apron has a plethora of tables, food vendors and a spacious play area for children
making it a great location to bring the family for an entertaining evening of