08/21/2001 12:00AM

Feature race unseen by most


ALTOONA, Iowa - Saturday evening's co-feature at Prairie Meadows was an invitational for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses at 440 yards, but few people got to see the race.

Special Referral flipped after the field was loaded in the gate, necessitating a late scratch, and the remainder of the field was backed out of the gate. The track's television crew apparently was unaware that the runners were being reloaded into the gate and failed to record the race, so fans at simulcast outlets, as well as ontrack patrons watching on TV, could not see the race.

Track announcer Ken Miller, who was watching his television and waiting for the reloading process to begin, also missed the contest, as did the placing judges. Steward Dick Garrison viewed the race through binoculars from the stewards' stand, but the track's other two stewards, Ralph D'Amico and Gerald Hobby, were positioned in front of television sets waiting for the video feed of the race - which never came.

Although mutuel windows were locked several seconds late, the race was made official, as stewards concluded that the integrity of the betting wasn't compromised. Mom's Birthday Boy ($9.80) won the $12,700 event under Brian Green for trainer Brent Taylor.