PRAIRE MEADOWS in Altoona,Iowa
It is summertime and I planned on going out to Minneapolis, MN for the Claiming Crown and also to check out the Mall of America. I found out that Prairie Meadows was not that far from Minneapolis, so me and my wife got into our rent a car and began to the 3 1/2 hour trek to Altoona, Iowa. It was so easy to get to the track. Rt. #35 all the way there.
When I pulled up to the track it looked very big. The track has free admission and parking. I walked through the slot and power area and for a Thursday night it was pretty crowded. The track even had 1 cent slot machines. Unreal. Me and the wife decided to try the buffet and as we went up they were running a few quarter horse qualifying races. I was a little disappointed that I would not get to see Charlene Hunt as I met her and became friends with her when she rode the last meet at Garden State Park and Monmouth Park in 2001. Lo and behold, Charlene picked up a mount in the 7th race so she would be riding tonight. Cool deal.
The food was ok, the steak I had wasn't the best, but the chocolate cake desert was unholy. My wife said her meal was a 10 out of 10 so there ya go. It was time to get downstairs and bet.
The track was running a mixed meet, meaning they ran 6 thoroughbred races and 4 quarter horse races. There is no turf at this track and just walking around and soaking up the track was really cool. Everything was very easy to get too and the prices were very reasonable for food. The buffet was like $10 per person. The 6 thoroughbred races were run at 6 furlongs.
I head over to the paddock area and check out the runners for Race #1. The race is an optional claiming race with a field of 5 with a purse of $22,365. I decide to play a straight exacta with the 2 favorites thinking I'll hit the 1st race and be on my way. The #3 takes the lead late and holds off the #2, who goes off 19-1. The exacta pays $58.00. Damn, wish I had that one. Race #2 is a claiming race with a purse of $7,500. 8 runners in this race. I decide to just play a win bet as I want to win a race early on. I decide to play $5 on Cindy Noll to win who is 7-2 in the morning line and looks like a good play on paper. Cindy was not even close and my wife missed an exacta by a nose. I did go over and get a picture with Cindy, which was cool and she remembered me from the interview I did for the female jockey site.
Race #3 was a claiming race with a purse of $8,000. 7 runners and I decide to try to get even and play a $3 exacta straight with the #1 horse who is dropping from allowance to claiming company. The #1 is back there, makes a move on the inside, but only gets up for 2nd and the #7 wins the race, making for a $75.80 exacta.
Race #4 is a full field of 10 horses going for a purse of $7,200 and it was a claiming race as well.
I look over the program and see that the #5 is dropping from allowance to claiming and decide to take a shot with him I am not even close as 2 longshots come in with #8 horse going off at 59-1. The exacta pays $1,278.20! Wow I wish I had boxed it for a $1, but on paper how could you play either horse? Race #5 is another claiming race with a purse of $5,000. Longshots seem to be coming in so I decide to play Cindy Noll to win and I throw $5 on her. Cindy comes off the pace and she wins by a 1/2 a length. A great ride by her and she pays $ 9.40 to win and I back in business.
Race # 6 is an allowance race with 6 horses. I play a $1 dollar trifecta 5/3 with 5/3 with 6 and also a straight exacta 5-3. I lose as the #6 comes from last to 1st and my wife misses a trifecta in a photo finish. The thoroughbred races are over and there is 4 quarter horse races to be run. Race #7 is 350 yards a maiden claiming with a purse of $20,000. The #5 has 5 2nd place finishes and he looks good, so I throw $3 to win on him. The #5 wins easy, but pays next to nothing. Better than losing ha ha. I also get to meet Charlene Hunt after the race and she was quite surprised to see me and I got a picture with her as well. Race #8 is a starter allowance with a purse of $7,300 going 350 yards. Got a tip on the #4 from a trainer so I throw a few dollars on him and of course he loses ha ha. I also box him with the heavy favorite in an exacta play and I lose as the tip finishes dead last. I will say this, these quarter horses are fast and the race is over in less than 30 seconds. A very dangerous thing for the jockeys for sure. Race #9 is an allowance race with a purse of $8,000. A field of 7. The middle has been holding up all night so I play a straight 4/3 exacta. I also for the heel of it throw in a $3 dollar to win on the # 3. I lose as it was a 4-6 exacta and the #4 stumbles, but quickly recovers and wins easy at odds of 7-1. Well, I was getting tired and I headed over to the gift shop and got a T-shirt and a hat and headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.