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Prairie Meadows awarded 2012 AQHA Challenge Championships

December 1, 2011     E-mail this page to a friend!

Story by Dan Johnson, Prairie Meadows

The American Quarter Horse Association has awarded the national finals of its 2012 Challenge Championships to Prairie Meadows.

The event, pending approval by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, will take place on Saturday, October 27, closing night of Prairie Meadows' 2012 Quarter Horse meet.

"This will be the biggest horse racing event ever to come to Iowa," said Tom Lepic, president of the Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association. "This gives Prairie Meadows nationwide recognition that we need.

“We'll have a lot of horses here at Prairie Meadows for the Quarter Horse meet trying to qualify for the finals. It will be a first-rate event and bring a lot of people to Iowa."

The Challenge is Quarter Horse racing's version of Thoroughbred racing's Breeders' Cup. It consists of six races worth more than $1 million combined.

Horses qualify for the finals by winning regional challenge races in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.

The biggest race is the $350,000 Bank of America Championship Challenge at 440 yards, which has been won by World Champions Down With Debt, SLM Big Daddy, Tailor Fit, and Streakin Sin Tacha.

Darrell Hare, the Challenge's director of racing, said Prairie Meadows was chosen because of its facilities, which will include its incoming 168-room hotel, and the prominence of its Quarter Horse program.

"They've become a major influence in the country," Hare said. "They have a strong desire to get a national presence and this will bring top championship-type horses to them.

"They have a lot going for them. It's an excellent facility. They do an excellent job in marketing. They have a lot of enthusiasm and they've done a good job of growing their Quarter Horse program."

Prairie Meadows and Lepic spent nearly a year working on the proposal. Along with the Challenge Championships, the AQHA will hold its four-day convention at Prairie Meadows. And Prairie Meadows will precede the Challenge with its Iowa Champions Night, consisting of stakes races for Iowa-breds, on Friday, Oct. 26.

"Hands down, this is a very significant event," said Derron Heldt, Prairie Meadows' director of racing. "We get a chance to showcase our facilities here and our racing."