The AQHA office is closed Thursday, December 25, Friday, December 26, and Thursday, January 1.

Blog: Challenge Preparations

A visit to Prairie Meadows before the Challenge Championships.

By Darrell Hare
September 19, 2012

Q Racing Blog

Bank of America Challenge Championship attendees are in for a huge treat this year when they attend the October 27 Challenge Championships at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa; not the least because of the addition of the newly opened hotel and conference center, which complements the existing racetrack and casino.

I attended the Regional Challenge races September 15-16 at Prairie Meadows, which was my first visit since these new amenities had been completed. The entire hotel complex and adjoining meeting rooms are absolutely first class and provide convenient and easy access to the adjacent racetrack and casino and other facilities. The entire complex is owned by Polk County and is managed by a local board of directors, which hires and oversees the management team responsible for operating the casino and racetrack operations.

Consequently, it is evident that the entire property is cross-marketed to racing fans, as well as casino players, concert goers, conference attendees and other hotel guests. The Prairie Meadows marketing team does an excellent job of providing informational and promotional signage and other publicity materials throughout the entire complex.

There are several excellent restaurants, bars and nightclubs, plus a business center, work out room, indoor swimming pool and other customer services on site.

Prairie Meadows, in cooperation with the Challenge program, hosted a dinner September 15 for approximately 180 Challenge qualifier guests, including a delegation of 25-30 representatives from John Deere, an AQHA corporate partner and sponsor of the John Deere Juvenile Challenge. We were very pleased that these folks from John Deere were available to present the awards in the winners circle after the John Deere Juvenile.

Results of the six Regional Challenge races are as follows:

*In the $25,470 Merial Prairie Meadows Distaff Challenge, favorite Painted Sable prevailed by three-quarters of a length for owners Bobby Barnett and Tommy Hays and trainer Ed Ross Hardy. Stormy Smith rode the Utah-bred PYC Paint Your Wagon filly to victory in :19.879 for 400 yards.

*The $19,440 Pfizer Prairie Meadows Starter Allowance Challenge went to favorite Zoomfection, an Oklahoma-bred gelding by Shazoom running for owner Danny Caldwell and trainer Brian Muse. Stormy Smith piloted the 4-year-old to a half-length victory with a time of :17.726 for 350 yards.

*Horton Racing LLC’s homebred Call Her Hero, a 3-year-old filly by Valiant Hero, captured the $29,207 Red Cell Prairie Meadows Distance Challenge (G3) by a half-length under Stormy Smith for his third straight win on the card. The Charley Hunt trainee covered 870 yards in :46.052.

*In the $39,060 Adequan Prairie Meadows Derby Challenge (G3), Painted Lies got up to win by a neck over even-money favorite Huckleberry Mojito. Ridden by Cody Smith and trained by Amber Blair for owner Tom Maher, Painted Lies dashed 400 yards in :19.875.

*Jockey Stormy Smith struck again in the $50,760 John Deere Prairie Meadows Juvenile Challenge with 2-1 favorite Heroes Heart and gave breeder/owner Horton Racing LLC a second winner on the card. Trained by Charley Hunt, Heroes Heart rallied to win by a half-length in :17.621 for 350 yards.

*In the richest race of the night, 19-1 longshot Ethics Aside upset heavily favored Llano Teller in the $73,980 Bank of America Prairie Meadows Championship Challenge (G2). With Oscar Delgado aboard for trainer and owner Jorge Gonzalez, Ethics Aside beat Llano Teller by a half-length in :21.718 for 440 yards.

I was able to visit with several Challenge horsemen and horsewomen this weekend, many who have arrived early for the Challenge Championships, and everyone is looking forward to an exciting and great Challenge Championships at Prairie Meadows. There is no doubt that Tom Lepic, president of the Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association, and IQHRA’s board of directors and membership are excited about hosting this big event and will be going all-out to showcase Iowa hospitality and this great Quarter Horse racing facility. The entire Prairie Meadows staff is equally as enthusiastic about “doing their thing” in hosting and entertaining Challenge attendees.

I look forward to seeing y’all at Prairie Meadows at the Challenge Championships. In the meantime, I will be at the Heritage Place Yearling Sale in Oklahoma City over the next few days, so be sure and stop by the AQHA booth and sign up for a free $300 Challenge voucher.

Darrell Hare
Director of Racing Challenge