12/07/2011 12:03PM

Prairie Meadows to host 2012 Challenge Championships for Quarter Horses


The $1 million Challenge Championships, a traveling program of six divisional stakes for Quarter Horses, will be held at Prairie Meadows in 2012. The championship card will be Oct. 27, the closing night of the track’s meet for Quarter Horses, pending final approval from the Iowa Racing Commission.

The American Quarter Horse Association administers the Challenge Championships and selected Prairie Meadows as the 2012 host site. This year, the event was held at Los Alamitos. Prairie Meadows, a racino set to open a 168-room hotel in the spring, had appeal for its facilities and its program for Quarter Horses, said Darrell Hare, director of racing for the Challenge Championships.

“They have a strong desire to get a national presence, and this will bring top championship-type horses to them,” he said.

The AQHA also will hold its four-day convention at Prairie Meadows.

Prairie Meadows and Tom Lepic, the president of the Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association, worked for about a year on a proposal for the Challenge Championships, according to a news release issued by the AQHA.

“This gives Prairie Meadows nationwide recognition that we need,” Lepic said in the release. “We’ll have a lot of horses here at Prairie Meadows for the Quarter Horse meet trying to qualify for the finals. It will be a first-rate event and bring a lot of people to Iowa.”

Horses qualify for the Challenge Championship races by winning regional challenge races in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil. The program is led by the $350,000 Bank of America Championship Challenge.