08/21/2001 11:00PM

Prairie Meadows


ALTOONA, Iowa - Prairie Meadows racing secretary Jay Johnson is at home dealing with Midwestern horseman and racing officials but soon his home will be halfway around the world. Johnson has accepted a position with the Emirates Racing Association and will move to Dubai at the beginning of October.

Kevin Greely who serves as the racing secretary for the Emirates Racing Association hired Johnson in mid-July to work at Dubai's five tracks, which race 59 days, from the end of October through the beginning of April. Johnson expects to assist Greely in coordinating the stakes races on the Dubai World Cup card held at Nad Al Sheba racecourse in mid-March as well as serve in various other capacities as a racing official during his six-month stay in Dubai.

A 31-year-old native of Omaha, Neb., Johnson has worked at tracks throughout the Midwest as both a racing official and an Equibase chart caller over the past decade but he admits the move to Dubai will be a new experience.

"I'm excited about the job but I know there will be some culture shock. The opportunity to work around some of the world's best horses was too good to pass up," said Johnson.

Johnson plans to return to the United States next April and could resume working at Prairie Meadows, which would create one of racing's all-time strangest circuits.