The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved its own horse racing schedule for the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona Thursday after turning down the schedule proposed by track administrators. The commission had to approve a schedule to renew the track’s license. Prairie Meadows administrators wanted to cut the quarter horse schedule in half and eliminate the schedule for standard breds. Prairie Meadows board member Tom Whitney says Prairie Meadows has been subsidizing horseracing for 20 years, and people are not coming out.
Whitney says, “They don’t come or they leave early. And when it comes to standardbreds they don’t come at all.” Whitney says the only horse racing track in Iowa is losing 33-million-dollars a year subsidizing the races that fans have shown they don’t want.
He says for 20 years track patrons have voted with their feet. Horsebreeders and owners urged the board not to cut the racing schedule or their industry and other support industries would suffer.
One commissioner said cutting back racing would cost Iowans jobs. Another said Prairie Meadows hasn’t done enough to drum up patrons. Commision Chair Greg Seyfer called the proposed cuts draconian.“It came down to a matter of fairness,” Seyfer says. The commission ordered Prairie Meadows to devise a long-term plan for racing.
One commissioner says she wants to see bigger and better horseracing at Prairie Meadows.