Iowa Casinos Feature Running Of The Bulldogs, Pool Party And Poker On Memorial Day

Written By Russ Mitchell on May 27, 2021
memorial day iowa casinos

Yes, thoroughbreds will still thunder down the racetrack on Memorial Day at Prairie Meadows Racetrack in Altoona.

But be sure to head over to the track apron at about 3:30 p.m. Monday to see — there’s no other way to put this — drool flying through the air.

The inaugural Prairie Meadows Bulldog Race will help cap Memorial Day weekend events at Iowa casinos.

Running of the bull(dog)s at Prairie Meadows

Four 12-dog preliminary heats will lead up to the final.

The bulldog race times are approximate because the heats are held between live thoroughbred races:

  • First Heat: 3:30 p.m.
  • Second Heat: 3:45 p.m.
  • Third Heat: 4:28 p.m.
  • Fourth Heat: 4:59 p.m.
  • Heat 5 – Final: 5:53 p.m.

If Italian greyhounds are the Maserati of dog dashes, then English bulldogs are more like the Ford Pinto you got as a “learning car” when you were 16. They’re more of a slobbering bruiser, but some good boy or girl will be the fastest.

Prizes are:

  • First Place: $500
  • Second Place: $300
  • Third Place: $150
  • Fourth-Sixth Place: $50
  • Seventh-12th Place: $25

The remaining competitors receive a goody bag, while owners have to pick up after their pooches. It’s a dog’s life.

Track apron doors will open an hour before the first bulldog race. The bulldogs will have to cover a 20-yard course, according to Prairie Meadows.

The internet is spotty on sure-fire information, but most sites suggest the slobbery English bulldog breed can run about 15 mph. French bulldogs are a little faster, but don’t approach a teller window. Bets on the broad-shouldered bulldogs are banned.

Altoona is a suburb on the northeast side of Des Moines.

More Memorial Day events at Iowa casinos


The nation was only a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic and entertainment venues were mostly shuttered for Memorial Day weekend 2020. To make up for last year, casinos are beginning to ramp up offerings as the weekend ushers in the start of summer:

Pool party grand opening at Grand Falls

Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort near Larchwood, IA, plans to open its pool at 10 a.m. Friday, but check the forecast. It looks like a rainy weekend with highs falling short of the 70s. A good meal and some table games might be a better option. The casino is within 20 miles of Sioux Falls, SD, in northwest Iowa.

Poker tournament at Riverside

Riverside Casino & Golf Resort will open the poker room for cash games from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday. Robert’s Buffet will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day.

Discounts for veterans at Caesars casinos

Caesars Entertainment wants to thank veterans and active-duty military personnel with 35% off bookings for Memorial Day weekend: In Iowa, the offers include the Isle Casino Hotels in Bettendorf and Waterloo, Harrah’s Council Bluffs Hotel and Casino and Horseshoe Council Bluffs.

COVID guidelines at Iowa casinos 

Guests at Iowa casinos should be able to enjoy a Memorial Day weekend that’s closer to normal thanks to the progress of COVID-19 vaccines this year.

Iowa casinos aren’t requiring guests who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask. If you don’t meet the criteria of having completed the vaccine regimen and are two-weeks post inoculation, you will need to wear a face mask.


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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell has been covering news and sports in northwest Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most acclaimed community newspapers in the state. He looks forward to keeping readers up to date on the growing sportsbook industry in Iowa.

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