The AQHA Office is closed Monday, September 7, in observance of Labor Day.

Blog: Reaching No. 20

The Bank of America Challenge Championships are 20: Looking back and looking forward

By Darrell Hare
November 1, 2012

Q Racing Blog

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, at Altoona, Iowa, was the first racetrack in the nation to combine the operation of a racetrack with a casino to create the first racino. On Saturday, October 27, Prairie Meadows hosted the 20th running of the Bank of America Racing Challenge for its first time, which provided an opportunity for the entire American Quarter Horse industry to experience first-hand the outstanding facility that it is.

The AQHA Racing Conference and Challenge Championship races attracted the largest number of attendees in recent years and from all indications, it was one of the most enjoyable and successful Challenge Championships ever.  The facilities throughout the entire complex were designed to accommodate multiple events and large crowds in a professional and seamless manner. The entire staff; from the hotel to the restaurants to the meeting/conference rooms to the casino to the racetrack were extremely courteous, helpful and professional in every aspect. The facilities and its staff, plus the local hospitality extended by the Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association, contributed to the overall success of this event and the enjoyment of attendees.

Thank you Prairie Meadows and IQHRA for doing an outstanding job in hosting the 20th renewal of the Bank of America Challenge Championships.

Championship Recap

The six Challenge Championship races attracted full fields of some of the top American Quarter Horses from practically every major AQH track in the US and Canada, plus one from South America.  Here are some interesting stats that illustrate the diversification and excellent support of the Challenge program by horsemen throughout North and South America:

* Six Championship races attracted 61 horses that cleared the entry box, with 58 starters (there were three late scratches by stewards for a rules violation by a trainer).
* 45 of these starters won regional Challenge races, 15 ran second in regional Challenge races and 1 ran third in regional Challenge race.
* The horses that entered in the six Championship races had competed at 35 different race tracks in 2012 (29 in the U.S., five in Canada and one in South America).
* The Championship horses had run 365 combined starts this year (339 in the U.S., 24 in Canada and two in South America).
* Texas and Oklahoma racetracks each hosted 69 races in which these horses competed.  

These 61 horses had raced at racetracks in Alberta, Canada; Brazil, (South America); Ontario, Canada; and practically every state in the U.S. that has American Quarter Horse racing. Thanks to the dedicated horsemen who support the Challenge program each year by enrolling their foals in the Challenge program, buying horses already enrolled in the Challenge program and then racing them in Challenge races is the reason the Challenge program is the most successful racing program available in Quarter Horse racing today.  The Challenge program is also very beneficial to the numerous American Quarter Horse racetracks that host Challenge races.

Looking Back

When the Racing Challenge was formed 20 years ago, there were these four goals established by the Challenge Task Force for this program:

1)    To develop a regional, national and international program for racing American Quarter Horses with an emphasis on older horses;
2)    To support and foster American Quarter Horse racing on a regional basis;
3)    To host an American Quarter Horse championship race day of international importance and impact;
4)    To secure corporate partnerships to help fund the program.

Here are the statistics for the 2012 Bank of America Racing Challenge:

* 61 Regional races at 18 racetracks in North and South America, with total purses of $1,932,000. Of that amount, $778,500 was added by tracks and $1,151,000 was added by the Challenge and AQHA corporate partners

* 34 Bonus Challenge races at 30 racetracks (U.S. and Canada) with total purses of $423,500. Of that, $238,000 was added by tracks and $185,500 added by the Challenge and corporate partners.

* 12 Maiden Challenge races at 12 racetracks, with total purses of$153,000. This includes $76,000 added by tracks  $76,500 added by Challenge).

* Six Challenge Championship and six Challenge undercard stakes at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino paid out $1,175,000 in total purses added by corporate partner Bank of America, Prairie Meadows and the Challenge program.

* The 2012 Challenge nominator awards (paid to breeders and owners who enroll horses in the Challenge) amount to a total of $324,960, a 25 percent increase over 2011, are currently being prepared and will soon be in the mail.

After reviewing the stats provided earlier in this blog regarding the number of horses, race tracks and geographic diversification competing in the 2012 Challenge Championships combined with the 2012 review of the Challenge race statistics immediately above, it is obvious that the Bank of America program is meeting its goals.  

The success of this program is directly attributed to the horsemen who enroll and buy Challenge horses and race them in the many Challenge races available; the racetracks who host Challenge races and provide additional funding for Challenge purses; plus the AQHA corporate partners who provide substantial funding for Challenge races.  Because of the support from racetracks and AQHA corporate partners; approximately 51 percent of the total annual Challenge purse funds is provided from sources other than horsemen.

However, the foundation of the Challenge program depends on Challenge enrollments.  December 31 is the deadline for enrolling foals in the Challenge program, so if you haven’t already done so, please submit your enrollments as soon as possible.

Challenge enrollment fees remain at $300 for weanlings, $600 for yearlings, $8,000 for 2-year olds and $20,000 for 3 and up. If you have any questions or would like to arrange for installment payments for enrollments, please contact either Malynda Reed or Kelly Phillips on the Challenge “hotline” 877-222-7223.

Thanks to all of you for making the 2012 Bank of America Challenge the success that it was and best wishes for the Holiday Season.

Darrell R. Hare
Director of Racing Challenge