02/06/2004 1:00AM

Iowa Festival back on schedule


Prairie Meadows has reinstated the Iowa Festival of Racing for the 2004 meeting after a one-year absence. A total of 39 Thoroughbred stakes worth over $2.8 million will be run during the 2004 season at Prairie Meadows.

Twenty-two stakes worth $1,885,000 will be contested during the 45-day Thoroughbred meeting, which runs from April 16 through July 4. The remainder of the stakes will be run during the 47-day mixed meeting, which begins July 9 and concludes Sept. 25.

The Festival, which runs four days, from July 1 to July 4, comprises eight stakes, two per day, and includes all of the meeting's premier events. The 1 1/16-mile Iowa Oaks, which has been granted Grade 3 status for this year, will be run July 2, as will the $250,000 Iowa Derby. Last year, the Festival's races were spread out over the last two weekends of the Thoroughbred meet and the first two weekends of the mixed meet.

The highlight of the Thoroughbred meeting will be the Grade 3, $300,000 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap, to be run at 1 1/8 miles July 3, the same evening as the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap.

Iowa Classic Night on Aug. 28 is the highlight of the mixed meeting. Iowa Classic night is an all-stakes program for statebreds.