23 June 2010

Little Festival on the Prairie

Things have been quiet here on the prairie, but at last, heat and humidity -- and frequent tornado watches -- have descended upon the plains. And yes -- the Iowa Festival of Racing is upon us.

Once a year, Prairie Meadows, shoots the moon, and lays out a ton of prize money to draw some big name horses to the middle of nowhere. Last night's Saylorville Stakes, Iowa Distaff, and Iowa Sprint races launched the festival. And tonight, three graded stakes highlight the festivities: the G3 Iowa Oaks (Race 6), the G3 Iowa Derby (Race 7) and the G2 Cornhusker Handicap.

The event always draws a crowd, and this year it has drawn (take a breath) - the winning riders in this year's Triple Crown races. Yup, Calvin Borel, Martin Garcia, and Mike Smith will all be out past the cornfields tonight. Woohoo!

The Des Moines Register, which always provides nice coverage of Prairie Meadows, highlighted the three in an article this week. They've also got it running on the DM Juice website, a chatty, boozy subsidiary website aimed at the 30 and under crowd. And they've made it easy to identify the big names with a guide to the horses they'll be riding this weekend:

Friday: Atta Boy Roy, Iowa Sprint
Saturday: Seeking the Title, Iowa Oaks
Saturday: Down With Dixie, Iowa Derby
Saturday: Brass Hat, Prairie Meadows Cornhusker

Friday: Miss Heather Lee, Saylorville
Saturday: Harissa, Iowa Oaks
Saturday: Concord Point, Iowa Derby
Saturday: Mythical Power, Prairie Meadows Cornhusker

Saturday: All Due Respect, Iowa Oaks

Track commentator John Hernandez (who blogs at John at Prairie Meadows) and guest Joy Rose Murphy of Remington Park spoke with Martin Garcia, but the fans wanted to see Borel. Twenty-five minutes before the race, they were lining the paddock two deep where Borel would await Atta Boy Roy for the Iowa Sprint. (Please note, scale is different here. The King remarked, "In New York, fans would be 10 deep here." Here, two deep is a big deal.)

Borel and Atta Boy Roy finished a disappointing second to the absolutely gorgeous, well-named Majesticperfection, who set a track record. But Borel, ambassador for racing, never disappoints. From his smiles for the crowd to the pat on the nose he gave Atta Boy Roy after the race, he never seemed to think he was a second third class track in a fly-over state.

We watched his race from the rail, and the woman was obviously new to the races, asking simple questions. When Borel dismounted in front of us, I noted that he had won 3 of the last 4 Kentucky Derbies. "Really?" she said. As Borel nodded to us, and walked back down the chute, she smiled. Suddenly, she wasn't just killing time while hubby played the slots inside. "He'll be here tomorrow? We've gotta come back," she said.

Thanks, Calvin! See ya tonight!

Before we dash out to the track, just a quick note: yours truly has at long last ventured into the world of public handicapping. You can check out the results, such as they are, at Thorofan.com. I have a feeling y'all can guess what kind of wager I suggest!


Jason said...

Goodluck to his race. I got some tips for you but I guess just stick to your style in racing. Good luck mate!

Championpicks Horse Racing Tips

Alisha said...

also good luck from turf suppliers, take care

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Anonymous said...

Great article about horseracing. You have a amusing and interesting style. Maybe next years winner will come from Mountain Trail Training Center

We just won the Pa Nursery with Der Meister, keep an eye on him.

Anonymous said...

I am learning about blogs and like what you did in yours blog.Turf varieties

horse racing handicapper said...

Good luck

Human Resource Recertification said...

If you’re “staying home” in Central Iowa, join us at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino in the fourth-floor simulcast center this weekend.

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Ethan Smith said...
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