Turn on the fountain and light up the lights, Iowa’s hidden jewel is back this Friday night with a new racing schedule. The old Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday schedule has been scrapped in favor of a more traditional Thursday – Sunday format. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will still be at night starting at 6:30 PM, while Sunday races will start at 1 PM. The new schedule is great news for those of us that like to go on the weekends, and one would think it would benefit the overall handle the track will take in. So let the fun begin at Iowa’s favorite place to play, as we give you out top 5 races, people, and horses to watch for at the meet.
Top 5 Events
The Iowa Derby – Saturday, June 30th – Grade 3 – Last 5 Winners: Prayer for Relief, Concord Point, Duke Of Mischief, Tiz Now Tiz Then, Delightful Kiss
The Cornhusker Handicap – Saturday, June 30th – Grade 3 – Last 5 Winners: Headache, Shadowbdancing, Jonesboro, Wayzata Bay, Dry Martini
The Iowa Sprint Handicap – Friday June 29th – Last 5 Winners: Ducky Drake, Majesticperfection, Ez Dreamer, Native Ruler, Benny The Bull
The Iowa Oaks – Saturday, June 30th – Grade 3 – Last 5 Winners: Little Miss Holly, Seeking the Title, Hightap, Storm Mesa, Marietta
Iowa Classics Night – Saturday, August 4th – Seven Iowa Bred races on the same night!
Top 5 Horses
City Sage – He shipped into Oaklawn and won the Hot Springs Stakes in March, and now he’s being pointed to Iowa. City Sage is a front-running sprinter, and Iowa has been know to be a speed favoring track at times. He’s in great hands with trainer Kelly Von Hemel so look for him to make an impact.
Pee H Dee – This is my WAY to early and most likely wrong pick to win the Iowa Derby. I like that Pee H Dee has been running against tough competition at Oaklawn, and feel as though he is going to give you an honest effort every time out. Pee H Dee is trained by last years leading Prairie Meadows trainer Chris Richard. Richard also trains another decent three-year old colt; Ring It Up. Both horses look like solid runners.
Outta Tune – This former $5,000 claimer was the recent winner of the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn, capping off an amazing story. You would have to think him and City Sage will meet up at some point in the meet. That race would feature the two sprint stars of the Oaklawn meet running against each other for the first time.
Wings of War – This Iowa bred won two of three races at Oaklawn this year, and looks to be in top form coming into Prairie Meadows. Surprisingly, his record isn’t that great over the local track, although last year he ran in major stakes races for Iowa breds all year.
Sakakawea – The queen of the Iowa breds is back at Prairie Meadows where she is 8 of 9 in her career, with 3 of those victories being stakes wins. She’s proven to be almost unbeatable over this track.
Top 5 People
Chris Richard – Last year Richard crushed the competition piling up 65 wins, winning at 34% clip, and hitting the board at a 71% clip. As impressive as those numbers are, one could argue that this year Richard comes in with a better stable than last year. He brings in horses that can compete in literally all categories.
Terry Thompson – While Richard is the dominant trainer, Thompson in the king of the jockey’s at Prairie Meadows. He won an amazing 97 races last year, which was 27 more than the second place jockey David Mello. Thompson is coming off another solid meet at Oaklawn Park, so look for him to have a big year once again.
Kelly Von Hemel – Know as the “King of Iowa,” Kelly Von Hemel brings a stable of close to fifty horses to Prairie Meadows. Von Hemel’s horses ran well at Oaklawn, and looked to be tuned up and ready to go. His father, Don Von Hemel, will have 20 to 25 horses on the ground as well this meet.
Tim Martin – Last year’s meet was very successful for Martin as he finished second behind Richard in the trainers race. This meet he brings in a similar stable so I look for him to carry over that success into this year. He is one that can overwhelm you with numbers, as he has a lot of claimers in his barn.
Alex Birzer – Birzer finished third in the jockey standings at Oaklawn this season, and looks to be riding better than ever coming into this meet. He’s always been solid at Prairie Meadows, but I look for even more success than in the past for him this meet.