Prairie Meadows Sets Dates, Purses for 2006

Prairie Meadows plans to run 90 days of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in 2006 under a plan unanimously approved Aug. 29 by the track's board of directors.

The plan, contingent upon approval by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, would have five fewer days of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing than this year, from mid-April to mid-September. Like this year, there would be two meets--a 45-day Thoroughbred-only meet, followed by a 45-day mixed meet with six Thoroughbred and four Quarter Horse races per day.

The Iowa Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association had balked at trimming the season by five days, but got Prairie Meadows to agree to card 10 races per day during the Thoroughbred meet, one more per day than this year. The track reached a tentative agreement with Iowa HBPA negotiators on Aug. 29, but Quarter Horse and Standardbred owners are seeking more days and a bigger share of the purse money.

Purses for 2006, which will depend on the amount of casino revenue in 2005, are estimated at just under $18.4 million, about $1.6 million higher than this year. Thoroughbreds would get $14.3 million, Quarter Horses, $2.23 million, and Standardbreds $1.86 million.

"We feel it's quite a fair division of the purses," said Jack Bishop, chairman of the Prairie Meadows board. "We asked (the breeds) throughout the negotiations for ideas or things we would like to see different and got very little response."