08/17/2011 12:34PM

Prairie Meadows: Quarter Horses taking center stage

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ALTOONA, Iowa – As the Thoroughbred meet wound down last weekend, the preponderance of cowboy hats and large belt buckles signalling the start of the Quarter Horse season were evident on the track apron.

For a meet conducted over 26 live racing dates from this Friday until Saturday, Oct. 1, the Quarter Horses are steadily dribbling into the Prairie Meadows backside. The track’s racing secretary for Quarter Horses, Chad Keller, said, “We have about 450 of them now, but that number should rise to 800 with the meet in full swing.”

The meet begins at 6:30 p.m., and Friday’s card includes the co-featured $50,000 added Iowa Double Gold Futurity and the $37,500 added IQHRA Sale Futurity, both held over 350 yards for juveniles.

With average daily purses in the $120,000 range, the meet culminates with Prairie Meadows Quarter Horse Champions Night, with three stakes races worth well over $300,000 in total purses, on Friday, Sept. 30 and the Oct. 1 Iowa Quarter Horse Champions Night, with six stakes for accredited Iowa-breds totalling an estimated $400,000.

Top 2010 jockeys William Ives and Stormy Smith are back to battle for the riding title, and Charley Hunt seeks to defend his 2010 training title.

Quarter Horse racing begins at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a special 4 p.m. first post on Labor Day, Sept. 5, to accommodate the simulcast of Ruidoso Down’s All American Futurity.