08/02/2005 12:00AM

Prairie Meadows shortens some races


ALTOONA, Iowa - Three races carded at six furlongs Tuesday afternoon at Prairie Meadows were instead contested at 5 1/2 furlongs because of a dip in the racing surface in the track's six-furlong chute.

Riders have complained of the dip, which is on approximately the inside four paths of the racing surface, for the past several weeks. The track has repeatedly added surface material to the affected area, but the problem has been recurrent.

"The surface is going somewhere, but we're not sure exactly what the problem is at this point" said Derron Heldt, director of racing at Prairie Meadows. The races were shortened, Heldt said, because "the horses' and riders' safety comes first."

The track will close for training at 8 a.m. Wednesday, at which time various pieces of equipment are to be used to peel back the racing surface in the chute in an effort to determine and fix the problem. Racing officials shortened all six-furlong races in the condition book to 5 1/2 furlongs when entries were taken Tuesday morning for Thursday evenings racing.

"Hopefully, we can solve the problem Wednesday, but we didn't want to take any chances until we are sure what we are dealing with," said Heldt.