01/30/2013 6:26PM

Iowa and Minnesota join forces for state-bred programs

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Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Ia., and Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., will card restricted races in 2013 for both Iowa- and Minnesota-breds when one of the two tracks is not hosting a live Thoroughbred meet.

The program will begin with the opening day of the 67-day Prairie Meadows meet on April 19, where restricted races mixing the state-breds will be held each week during the time before Canterbury starts its meet. Three or four conditions of races are being considered that will be open to both Iowa and Minnesota-breds.

The two states will then split off to their own tracks at the start of Canterbury’s 69-day meet on May 17, until the close of Prairie Meadows’ Thoroughbred meet in mid-August. After that, races will be carded at Canterbury for natives of both states through the end of the Minnesota track’s meet on September 14.

“This collaboration presents additional racing opportunities for owners of Iowa and Minnesota-breds,” Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson said. “With the Canterbury meet now extending into mid- September, we are excited to give the Iowa-bred horses the opportunity to race at Canterbury after the Prairie Meadows race meet concludes.”

The idea was proposed by the Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, led by owner Leroy Gessmann, at a Minnesota HBPA meeting last summer.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Iowa Thoroughbreds to run in restricted state races beyond mid- August when our season ends at Prairie Meadows,” said Deb Leech, President of the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, “and the same holds true for Minnesota-bred horses to run, before Canterbury opens, in state restricted races here in Iowa.

“We are thrilled that Canterbury Park and Prairie Meadows were both receptive to this idea and worked with the Iowa and Minnesota HBPAs to make this happen. Purse structures are comparable, so this is an attractive option for our breeders and owners. We look forward to a successful first year of these additional races and building on it for the future.”