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Gentlemen, start your… beaks?


Is watching a gaggle of expensive cars driven by multi-millionaires turning left on an oval 200-plus times getting stale? Has the Iditarod simply become a vowel-heavy, embarrassing word (“You did a what?”) you refuse to say in public? Is the thought of watching another 3,200-meter run at the Olympics enough to make you WANT to mow the lawn?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you’ve got a problem that could potentially drain your competitive juices bone dry.

In other words, you need some spice in your racing life. Luckily, there’s a cure.


Yes, once again this summer, Prairie Meadows Racetrack will be hosting ostrich races, this time on Sunday, July 17 beginning at 1 p.m.

Prep Iowa

And if ostriches aren’t enough to move your racing needle, do not fear. There will be zebra and camel races, too.

It will be something for everyone, said Chelsea Fousek, promotions coordinator at the track.

“It’s a day full of fun for both guests and employees,” she said. “It’s truly a unique experience and something you don’t see every day.”

The races are free and families are welcome on the track apron. There will be plenty of food and drink options inside and out, as always.

There will be three races — one for each animal — that will take place between the regularly scheduled horse races. The field will consist of four zebras, four camels and five ostriches.

The animals will be ridden by humans, of course, but the feathered, striped and humped ones will bring personalities all their own.

On the ostrich side, competitors will include Michael Featherbender, a 285-pound native of England that is ready to fly the Queen’s colors. Then there’s Carmen Sandyego, a female hailing from California that is described on the racing program as a “a tough ostrich to find. She has raced all over the world, most recently in Cairo, Egypt for the Sphinx Stakes where she won the race and then immediately disappeared.” LeBrow James —350 pounds and mega unibrow in tow — will be at the track, as will Kentucky-born ostrichette, Roadrunner, a 270-pound female fresh off her historic Triple Crow wins.  Flacka Wacka’s 1,100 pounds of sheer New Zealand are sure to delight race fans as well.

The always-popular ostrich, zebra and camel races will be held at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack on Sunday, July 17 beginning at 1 p.m.

The always-popular ostrich, zebra and camel races will be held at the Prairie Meadows Racetrack on Sunday, July 17 beginning at 1 p.m.

In the zebra stall, buck-toothed Marty will hit the track in search of his first win in the stripes, and Meryl Streak, a well-groomed female with a sweet personality and a penchant for randomly sing wherever she goes. Then there’s Mick Zagger, who earned his name from the way he runs zig-zag style in all of his races and has caused many collisions on the track. For you race fans who love the pile-ups, be ready for Zagger to stir up some trouble at Prairie Meadows. Last but not least is Lightning Stripes, a 715-pound female with a great personality and a winning streak to boot.

The camels will be led by the feel-good story of the night — Joe Camel. The 1,100-pound male out of North Carolina was out of the racing game for years to pursue a career as a cigarette spokesperson until recently finding his way back to where its humps belong — on the racetrack. Camel Macchiato is pegged as the underdog due to her innocent and sweet name, while the pride of Egypt — Sugar Lump — will bring her sweet tooth and sassy moniker to the foray. Another humper, Lumpelstilskin, travels to Iowa all the way from Saudi Arabia.

So if you want something a little different in your race life, this is the place to be. Spice it up. CV



Ostrich, zebra and camel races

Prairie Meadows Racetrack, Altoona

Sunday, July 17

1 p.m.


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