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Board votes to discontinue harness racing at Prairie Meadows

May 28, 2009

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The board which manages Prairie Meadows racetrack has voted to discontinue harness racing there in 2010, and to shorten its Thoroughbred meet.
The board which manages Prairie Meadows voted 9-0 with three abstentions in favor of a 2010 season that would have a 56-day Thoroughbred meet followed by a 30-day quarter horse season, and no harness racing. In 2009 Prairie Meadows will offer a 50-day thoroughbred season, a 32-day mixed thoroughbred-quarter horse meet, and a 16-day harness meet.
According to a report in the Des Moines Register, in 2008 the track paid $20 million in purses and handled $4.8 million in wagering. Racing operations lost between $23 million and $29 million, the Register reported.

“This is our best judgment of where we should go,” said Tom Whitney, chairman of the Racing Committee. “Are we guaranteeing it will work? Absolutely not. What we’re guaranteeing is it’s time to do something. We want a better quality of racing and we want better handles.”
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission must still approve the schedule change.

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