10/25/2012 4:15PM

Prairie Meadows: $1.1 million in purses on the line in Challenge Championships

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Dustin Orona Photography
Fredaville is in from California for the Grade 1 Distaff on Challenge Championships Night.

Quarter Horses from throughout North America and as far away as Brazil have descended on Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, on Saturday night to be part of the $1.1 million Challenge Championships. The program is one of the sport’s biggest, and it features 11 divisional stakes led by three Grade 1’s.

“I think it has a very similar feel to the Breeders’ Cup,” said trainer Cody Joiner, who will send out two starters on the card, including the top-class mare Fredaville. “It’s the same type of venue. You get horses from all over.”

There will be five graded stakes on the card, and those races will be filled by horses who earned their spot in the starting gate by winning regional qualifiers. The night’s biggest prize is the Grade 1, $353,500 Challenge Championship for 3-year-olds and up at the classic distance of 440 yards. The race also serves as the third leg of a $10,000-guaranteed pick four that has a 50-cent minimum.

Fredaville is in from Southern California for the Grade 1, $125,000 Distaff, a 400-yard race for fillies and mares. She won qualifiers at Remington Park in May and Los Alamitos in August, and comes into the finale off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap at Los Alamitos on Sept. 30. Fredaville was beaten a length by Flame N Flash, who returned in her next start to set the fastest qualifying time for the Grade 1, $1 million Los Alamitos Super Derby. The Distaff will be Fredaville’s first start at Prairie Meadows.

“This mare, she’s done pretty good anywhere she’s ever went,” said Joiner. “She seems to take her racetrack with her when she goes to run.

“She’s settled in wonderfully.”

Joiner credits Juan Aleman, who trained Fredaville at Los Alamitos, for her form, and said Aleman asked him to take the mare with him to Prairie Meadows for the Challenge Championships as Joiner, who is also based at Los Alamitos, already had a horse headed to Iowa. For the Distaff, Fredaville will break from post 10 under regular rider G.R. Carter Jr.

“She likes to run from the outside,” said Joiner. “I’ve watched her throughout her career, and she likes the outside post. I was really pleased with the way she drew here.”

Robert Gentry owns Fredaville, a multiple graded stakes winner who missed by a half-length in last year’s Distaff.

Joiner’s other starter on the night is All Out Arrogant, who runs in the Grade 2, $150,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship.

“I really like his chances,” said Joiner. “He’s one of those horses who has gotten a little better each time that he’s run.”

Carter has the mount from post 3.

The Challenge Championship field drew a diverse group of 11 horses including Llano Teller, a two-time Grade 1 winner last year at 3; Fearless Fred, a stakes winner last out at Fort Erie in Canada; and Dash Glory Ease, who took the year’s first qualifier when he captured the $104,000 South American Challenge at Sao Paulo in Brazil in February.

Dash Glory Ease and Rylees Boy, who missed by a neck in last year’s Challenge Championship, both go for trainer Paul Jones, who won this race a year ago with Favorite Cartel. Dash Glory Ease will break from post 2, and will be first Lasix.

Rylees Boy, meanwhile, drew post 9 and will be out to rebound from a 10th-place finish in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap at Los Alamitos on Sept. 23. He broke last in that 400-yard race and then was checked in a performance that seems like a throw out for the otherwise consistent Grade 1 winner.

The other graded races on the card are the Grade 1, $125,000 Distance Challenge Championship led by De Passem Okey and the Grade 2, $200,000 Derby Challenge Championship.