Prairie Meadows Picks

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About Prairie Meadows

Prairie Meadows statistics, track bias and information

Prairie Meadows is a thoroughbred racetrack located in Altoona, Iowa. It is around five miles from Des Moines and also hosts regular quarter-horse meetings throughout the year.


The venue operates just a single track, which is a one-mile oval on the dirt surface. There is also a chute, which is used in quarter-horse meets. The distance from the last turn to the finish line is 1,033 feet.


Meetings are held throughout the summer months, with action typically taking place between May and October. Racing is held Thursday to Sunday (inclusive), although special race-days are occasionally held earlier in the week.


As well as regular race-days, the track also hosts concerts on a semi-regular basis and is home to 1,900 slot machines, which can be found in the on-site casino. A hotel has also been built on the complex. Simulcast betting is also now available at the track.


The most notable races at the track are theGrade II Cornhusker Handicap, the Grade III Iowa Oaks, and the Iowa Derby. It also hosts the Bank of America Challenge Championships each year.


The track is owned and operated by Polk County and is run by a not-for-profit board of 13 members, and this has remained in place since it opened in 1989. Revenues from the track are often distributed to various charitable causes and organizations located nearby.

Prairie Meadows Racetrack History

Prairie Meadows has a relatively short history, having only been established in 1989. It first received its license five years earlier, which had been granted by the Iowa Racing and GamingCommission. This came shortly after Parimutuel betting had been legalized in the state just 12 months earlier.


They identified a 240-acre site for construction to begin, and $40 million was spent on ensuring the track was finished to a high standard.


The inaugural race-day was held on March 1,1989, and although attendance remained stable over the next couple of years, the track filed for bankruptcy in 1991.


Racing was temporarily suspended as a result, and no live race meets took place in 1992. However, revenues from off-track betting began to slowly filter through, and racing was able to continue in the summer of 1993.


Slot machines were installed in 1994, which helped the track raise extra revenue. This enabled the track to pay off some outstanding debts and bonds which had been issued by the Polk County Board of Supervisors. Casino games were soon added to the facility in December, following approval from the state. These remained in place until further expansion 11 years later.


A restaurant and concert hall soon followed, with the venue expanding beyond the traditional racetrack.


In 2004, Roses in May set a race record in theCornhusker Handicap with 1:46.63 over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.


Fort Larned was the winner of the 2012 Cornhusker Handicap for trainer Ian Wilkes before going on to win at the Breeders' Cup Classic later that year. The race was held at Santa Anita.


The legalization of sports betting in Iowa was officially granted in 2019, with the bill being signed at the beginning of May.This should help increase revenue at the track, with William Hill recently announced as the official betting partner of the venue. The track reported that $8.5 million of sports wagers were placed at the track and casino in 2018.

Prairie Meadows Known Track Bias

There is no noticeable and stable track bias at Prairie Meadows. Every style of racing has a fair shot on this track.

Post Position Stats at Prairie Meadows

There was a fairly even spread of winners at Prairie Meadows in both sprints and distance contests. Over the shorter trip,15.6 percent of horses who were drawn on the inside entered the winner's enclosure. The inside draw proved relatively productive compared to stalls two and three, which have yielded just 12 and 14.2 percent of winners, respectively, in 2019.


Stall four was the best position to be drawn, with 18.2 percent of winners coming from this particular starting position.Although fewer runners were drawn in stall 10, it produced 10.6 percent of winners in sprint races.


Only 34 runners were drawn in stall nine, with just two winners produced so far. This equates to a 5.9 percent strike rate.



Over the longer trip, stall seven proved particularly fruitful, with four of the 10 runners drawn in this position finishing in front. This was an eye-catching 40 percent strike rate.


Stalls one and five were also fairly favorable, with 21 percent of winners being drawn in each of these positions. Stalls three and four produced relatively solid results (10.5 percent), while just one horse drawn in stall two has entered the winner's enclosure so far.


None of the seven runners that have been drawn in stalls nine and 10 have managed to pick up a victory in 2019. The route races have tended to attract smaller fields at Prairie Meadows.

Top Trainers at Prairie Meadows

There are a number of horsemen who reside inIowa and regularly send their horses to Prairie Meadows. Some of the most astute trainers regularly have winners at the track and are always popular with handicappers.


2019 Meet (August-October)

     Isai V Gonzales - 36% Strike Rate

     Karl Broberg – 34% Strike Rate

     William N Martin – 33% Strike Rate

     Dick R Clark – 26% Strike Rate

     Doug Anderson – 18% Strike Rate

     Federico Villafranco – 17% StrikeRate

     Lynne Chleborad – 13% Strike Rate

     Timothy E Martin – 10% Strike Rate

Top Jockeys at Prairie Meadows

There are a number of top jockeys who regularly ride winners at the track, and they can always be relied upon to get the best out of their mounts. Here are some names to watch out for in Iowa:


2019 Meet (Aug-Oct)

     Glenn W Corbett – 34% Strike Rate

     Ken Tohill – 21% Strike Rate

     David Cabrera – 20% Strike Rate

     Floyd Wethey Jr – 18% Strike Rate

     Ramon Vasquez – 17% Strike Rate

     Kevin Roman – 15% Strike Rate

     Alex L Canchari – 11% Strike Rate

     Terry Thompson – 9% Strike Rate

Prairie Meadows Racing Schedule and Key Races

Racing has traditionally taken place atPrairie Meadows throughout the summer months. Currently, racing begins in April and concludes in late October. Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing are both held at the track and are occasionally staged on the same card.


Live race-days typically take place onThursday through Sunday and are held in the afternoon.

There are a number of key races taking place at the track, with the Grade II Cornhusker Handicap the standout race. This has seen a number of horses race at the Breeders' Cup later in the year. It is open to 3-year-olds and is held over 1 1/8 miles. It was originally staged at Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack, which was located in Nebraska.


Key Races:

     Cornhusker Handicap (Grade III)

     Iowa Oaks (Grade III)

     Iowa Derby (Grade III)

     Prairie Meadows Handicap

     Challenge Championship (Grade I Quarter Horse)

     Distaff Challenge Championship (Grade I Quarter Horse)

     Derby Challenge Championship (Grade III Quarter Horse)

Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack & Resort Address

1 Prairie Meadows Drive

Altoona, IA 50009