'Herb' Butler honored with memorial stakes

05:21 PM 15 Sep 2009 NZST
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When the Standardbreds return to Prairie Meadows on Monday, Sept. 28, harness racing fans will enjoy an action-packed, expanded stakes schedule including two new harness stakes among 18 featured trotting and pacing events, reports racing secretary Chad Keller.

Racing will start at 5 p.m. each day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Ten wagering events on the nightly card will be featured during the 16-day meet through closing night on Saturday, Oct. 24. In 2008, Rick Magee led the driver standings winning 35 of 122 starts; trainer Curtis Carey won 15 of 64 races to lead the trainer standings. Van Otterloo Stables of Rock Valley, Iowa, was the leading owner with purse earnings of $48,503.

The two new stakes added to Championship night on Oct. 24 are The Charles H. Butler Memorial Pace for Aged Iowa-Registered and/or Iowa-Sired 4-year-olds and up with a purse of $10,000 added, and The Charles H. Butler Memorial Trot for Aged Iowa-Registered and/or Iowa-Sired 4-year-olds and up with a purse of $10,000 added.

These races honor the late Charles Herbert “Herb” Butler, a trainer and driver from Kahoka, Missouri, who left a lasting impact on the Prairie Meadows program as the presiding harness judge from 2000 to 2008. The affable characteristics Butler possessed through years of service to his hometown community were the same qualities that made him hugely popular at Prairie Meadows with employees, fans, and horsemen.

“After (Prairie Meadows racing director Derron Heldt) and I heard the news about Herb passing away,” says racing secretary Keller, “we made a commitment to honor Herb with a race this year. Derron spoke with Evelyn (Butler) last winter to begin making plans to honor Herb and his family. With the tremendous amount of involvement he had with harness racing here in the Midwest, it only makes sense to honor him on the biggest day for Iowa harness racing, the Iowa Harness Championship Day here at Prairie Meadows for Iowa-Registered and Foaled Standardbreds.

“Herb not only meant a lot to Iowa harness racing overall,” Keller adds, “but for me, personally, he was instrumental in helping me know more about the Standardbred industry since I became involved in it back in 2000. Everyone always looked forward to Herb’s jokes and bringing smiles and laughter to all of us. You could say he ‘brought it all to the table’ when he was here during our harness meet. I’ll be thinking of him each and every day during our upcoming harness meet and I’m looking forward to having a great season of racing this year.”

Racing director Heldt says he and his staff will not only miss Butler’s positive influence on the Iowa harness program, but “we will all miss Herb and his lively personality -- the jokes and laughter.

“We learned a lot from him,” Heldt continues, “but the empty spot here without Herb is what we’ll miss most.”

For more information about this year’s season, visit Prairie Meadows, or contact the Prairie Meadows Racing Office at 515.957.3027.

by Mary Lou Coady, for Prairie Meadows

Courtesy of the US Trotting Association Web Newsroom

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