The Flag Is Raised: Prairie Meadows Racetrack Starts Racing June 19

Posted on June 4, 2020

The racing action in Altoona will resume shortly, although it will look and sound different. The Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission (IRGC) gave the final regulatory clearance to a revised Prairie Meadows racing schedule.

The schedule permits Prairie Meadows to host its first races on June 19. However, racing fans will see changes as the track employs enhanced safety measures.

Details on the new Prairie Meadows racing schedule

For the first four days, Prairie Meadows will feature thoroughbreds only. Mixed racing won’t resume until June 26. From that point forward, the track has early mixed races planned for Friday-Monday of every week through Aug. 17.

The track also has plans for another day of thoroughbred-only racing on Thursday, Aug. 13.

Starting Aug. 21 and continuing through Sept. 27, Prairie Meadows will offer late mixed races every Friday-Monday. Then on Sept. 28, the track intends to provide a bonus end of thoroughbred races.

Those events will conclude the calendar for 2020 on Oct. 10, again running on the same Friday-Monday schedule.

Post time on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays is 6 p.m. On Sundays and Mondays, post time is 4 p.m.

With at least six races planned for each day, Prairie Meadows should get in a full complement of 646 events this year.

The return of local racing is good news for Iowa sports betting fans. What is even better is the care that Prairie Meadows is taking to keep everyone safe. Spectators need to know what to expect when the track reopens.

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Prairie Meadows went above and beyond

Although IA Gov. Kim Reynolds gave clearance for casinos and similar venues to reopen with restrictions on June 1, Prairie Meadows remains closed for now.

The casino will reopen on June 15, if everything goes according to plan. The track will then reopen four days later.

In an earlier statement, Prairie Meadows’ CEO Gary Palmer explained the rationale behind the decision to keep the doors closed.

“At Prairie Meadows, we care deeply about the health and well-being of our family of employees, our guests, the horsemen, and our community. This is a position in which we have been steadfast since deciding to close our full operation before any other casino in the state.”

As Palmer alluded to, Prairie Meadows did voluntarily cease all operations a day before Reynolds gave the order for IA casinos to close.

In that spirit, Prairie Meadows has adjusted seating in the viewing area at the track to allow for social distancing. It has also temporarily discontinued several amenities, including:

  • Triple Crown Buffet
  • Valet service
  • Coat check
  • Parking lot shuttle

Iowa horse racing will also encounter reduced entrances and a required non-invasive temperature screening.

Prairie Meadows also requires guests to wear face coverings while on the property and must provide their own.

These measures give Prairie Meadows the best chance of delivering on its new schedule for racing this year.

Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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