08/11/2010 11:38AM

Prairie Meadows opens Quarter Horse meet

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ALTOONA, IOWA – Prairie Meadows will begin its inaugural Quarter Horse meet Friday. The meet, which ends Sept. 25, is scheduled to pay out more than $3 million in purses over the 26-day meet, about $120,000 per day.

The recently concluded Thoroughbred meet was 67 days long and paid out more than $10 million, about $160,000 per day. The separate meets are a departure from last year, when the track ran a 50-day Thoroughbred meet followed by a 32-day mixed meet.

“It’s our first go at having a straight Quarter Horse meet,” racing secretary Chad Keller said. “Typically, we’ve done a mixed meet in prior years. So far, things are looking very positive. We will put on a pretty respectable meet.”

The new meet brings new faces. Keller said 98 trainers have brought more than 1,100 horses. Among the trainers is Heath Taylor, who currently ranks sixth in the nation, with 61 wins.

Taylor is currently ranked sixth in the nation, with 61 wins.

Keller also said that some Prairie Meadows regulars will increase their presence at the meet, including Ed Ross Hardy, who is ranked 10th in the nation, with 47 wins.

The riding colony will be the strongest Prairie Meadows has seen in recent years, with regulars Tom Wellington, Stormy Smith, and Tommy Byrd joined by Gilbert Ortiz, Cody Smith, Jimmy Beeson, Gasper Garcia, Cody Smith, and Dewey Smith. Ortiz currently ranks sixth in the nation, with 80 wins.

The meet features 23 stakes races, including six qualifiers for the AQHA Bank of America Challenge series to take place at Fair Grounds on Nov. 20.

“Things are looking upbeat to have a good meet,” Keller said. “Some people had doubts whether a straight Quarter Horse meet could succeed, but I think the horsemen and racing department have really stepped up. Hopefully, this meet establishes a good start for the continued success of Quarter Horse racing in the state of Iowa.”