Prairie Meadows

Corporate Name: Prairie Meadows
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1000, Altoona, Iowa 50009-0901
Street Address: 1 Prairie Meadows Drive, Altoona, Iowa 50009 (Click for map)
Telephone: (515) 967-1000 or (800) 325-9015
Fax: Main: (515) 967-1344; Racing: (515) 967-1376; Simulcasting: (515) 967‑8250

The initial construction of Iowa’s first and only equine pari-mutuel facility began in 1988, followed by its inaugural opening on March 1, 1989.

Early in the track’s history, competition from riverboats and Native American gaming severely hindered track revenues. Management was determined to ease the burden on Polk County taxpayers, ultimately responsible for the track debt, while preserving the horse racing industry. For two years, racetrack officials lobbied to obtain a casino gaming license.

In 1994, legislation was enacted permitting Prairie Meadows to install its first 1,100 slot machines while operating as a non-profit corporation to be managed locally by the license holder, Racing Association of Central Iowa (renamed Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Inc. in January 2005). Local response to this new entertainment venue exceeded all expectations and, within 18 months after the casino opened on April 1, 1995, the track was able to satisfy its $90 million in construction revenue bonds to Polk County. Since then, casino revenues have allowed Prairie Meadows to increase its overall purse structure from $1.2 million in 1994.

In December 2004, 33 table games opened for play. In early 2007, Prairie Meadows finished a $60 million expansion to bring on board The Meadows Events and Conference Center, the Triple Crown Eatery, AJ’s Fine Dining, and one of the state’s largest commercial food kitchens. The expansion also included a new saddling paddock and walking ring. The facility currently has 49 table games and 2,062 slot machines. Prairie Meadows’ 168-room hotel, complete with a lounge, cafe, business center, fitness center and salt-water pool, opened in March 2012. In 2015, the average daily Thoroughbred purse/supplement was $210,697 during the Thoroughbred meet from April 18–August 8.

The 2016 season at Prairie Meadows begins on April 28, featuring 67 days of Thoroughbred racing through August 13, including the track’s signature events, the Grade III $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, the Grade III Iowa Derby, and the Grade III Iowa Oaks during the Iowa Festival of Racing, June 30–July 2.

The American Quarter Horse meet, highlighted by the Valley Junction Futurity and the Bank of America Central Championship series, runs from August 20 to October 15 (26 days). Both breeds take part in an all-Iowa night featuring the state’s top-flight runners. The Thoroughbreds’ Iowa Classic is August 13 and the Quarter Horses’ statebred championships are set for October 15.

Prairie Meadows fosters a maturing horse industry throughout Iowa with an increasingly larger number of Iowa-breds competing successfully in open company and at major racing venues throughout the nation. Prairie Meadows has given more than $1.4 billion through taxes, grants, and charitable donations to the state of Iowa. More than $600 million of that has remained in our community to promote economic development, agriculture, jobs and tourism. Prairie Meadows is committed to its tradition of excellent guest service, while offering racetrack fans and casino players the finest racing and gaming entertainment in the Midwest.

Chairman of the Board: Robert Myers
President/CEO: Gary Palmer
Vice President/COO: Ann Atkin
Vice President/CFO: Brian Wessels
Director of Racing: Derron Heldt
Director of Facilities: Dustin VandeWeerd
Racing Secretaries: Pat Pope (TB), (515) 967-1204, [email protected]; Chad Keller (QH), (515) 957-3027; [email protected]
Racing Center Manager: Aric Rasmussen, [email protected]
Track Announcer: James McAulay
Television Production: Ryan Dunn
Track Photographer: Jack Coady, Jr. (Coady Photography)
Simulcast Manager: Marty Pohlmeier
Nearest City: Des Moines (5 miles southwest of track)
Nearest Airport: Des Moines International (15 miles from track)
Track Data: 1-mile oval, 6-furlong and 1¼-mile chutes; soil composition, 87% fine sand, 3% clay, 10% silt; length of the stretch, 990 feet; stabling for 1,350 horses; track acreage is 233; half-mile training track
Admission Price: Free
Facility Capacity: 13,500
Minimum Age Admitted: Casino, 21; racing, under 21 must be accompanied by an adult
Parking Facilities: 3,600 vehicles (parking is free)
Simulcasting Information: Year-round, 10–22 cards a day, full cards are allowed