07/18/2001 11:00PM

Exotics takeout lowered, Sunday racing scratched

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ALTOONA, Iowa - As Prairie Meadows begins its 45-day mixed meet with a 15-race program Saturday night, the track has restructured its takeout rates in an attempt to increase handle at simulcast outlets. The reduction comes after the track's total handle decreased by more than 18 percent for the recently concluded 53-day Thoroughbred meeting.

The track has lowered the takeout on exactas and quinellas to 19 percent, down from 24 percent for the Thoroughbred meet. Pick threes, trifectas, and superfectas will now have a 22 percent takeout, down from 25. Two pick fours with takeout of 12 percent have been added to the wagering menu.

Prairie Meadows has also slightly altered its racing schedule, with Tuesday afternoons replacing Sundays, which were the lowest-handle days during the Thoroughbred meet. Racing will be conducted on Friday and Saturday evenings with a 6 p.m. first post, and on Monday and Tuesday afternoons with a 4:30 p.m. first post through closing day, Oct. 6.

Each racing program will consist of six Thoroughbred and four Quarter Horse races.

On the track, Tim Gleason returns with a full barn to defend his 2000 mixed meet training title. The remainder of last year's top five trainers are all back, led by Dick Clark, the all-time leading trainer at Prairie Meadows and tops in the 2001 Thoroughbred meet. Joining him are Dave McShane, Mark Bader, and Kelly Von Hemel.

Glenn Corbett will vie for his third straight mixed meet riding title. Others who could compete for the title include Terry Thompson, who was the leading rider at the Thoroughbred meet here for the second straight year, as well as Greg Schaefer and Cindy Noll who finished second and third in the 2000 mixed meet standings.

The track will be host to the eighth annual Iowa Classic Night to be run on Saturday, Sept. 1. Iowa Classic Night features six Thoroughbred stakes races for state-breds with total purses expected to exceed $450,000.

The meet's premier race promises to be the Prairie Meadows Handicap for older horses to be run at 1 1/8 miles on Sept. 3. The Handicap's purse has been increased to $100,000 this year in an attempt to draw a stronger field, according to Jay Johnson, now in his second season as the track's director of racing.