The three most accomplished jockeys in the 30-year history of this Altoona, Iowa racetrack – Alex Birzer, Glenn Corbett, and Terry Thompson – were inducted into the Prairie Meadows Hall of Fame along with champion Quarter Horse Ajs High on Saturday August 10, 2019.
Through August 1, 2019, Birzer, Corbett, and Thompson had combined for 4,431 victories at Prairie Meadows with Corbett leading the trio at 1,637 wins.
Corbett, who rode his first winner at Penn National Racecourse in 1985, logged his initial Prairie Meadows winner during the second meet of the inaugural season in 1989.
Nearly 35 years later, Corbett finds himself approaching 3,900 lifetime victories and within range of the 4,000 win plateau, a milestone accomplished by approximately 80 riders in the history of American Thoroughbred racing.
“It's truly an honor not only to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but to be inducted standing alongside Alex and Terry,” Corbett said. “I've been blessed to win so many races in Iowa, to ride some really good horses for some great trainers, and to compete against talented jockeys like Birzer and Thompson.”
Birzer rode his first winner at Prairie Meadows in 1999. The Kansas native owned 1,498 victories here and 3,290 lifetime wins through August 1, 2019.
A winner of five riding titles at Prairie Meadows, Birzer set a record for consecutive victories at this track by winning the first five races on September 2, 2007.
“I was just in awe when (VP of Racing) Derron Heldt told all three of us that we were going into the Hall of Fame,” Birzer recalled. “We've been around each other here for so long. It's like a brotherhood! And to share this honor with Glenn and Terry makes it even more special.”
Terry Thompson, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, began his riding career on August 9, 1992 with a single mount at his historic hometown track AkSarBen.
Thompson first rode at Prairie Meadows in 1999, then returned to Iowa to win four consecutive riding titles from 2000 to 2003.
On May 20, 2002, Thompson broke fellow Hall of Fame inductee Alex Birzer's record when he rode six winners on a single race card at Prairie Meadows.
In all, Terry has won nine riding titles at Prairie Meadows, notched 1,296 victories here, and recorded a total of 3,335 lifetime wins through August 1, 2019.
“It's a tremendous honor for all of us,” Thompson commented. “We've all experienced the highs and lows of the business here at Prairie Meadows, so it seems fitting that I was named to the Hall of Fame the same year as Glenn and Alex.”
Ajs High competed at Prairie Meadows and other top tracks throughout his racing career from 2014 to early 2019. The son of Apollitical Jess-Regally Rare (Rare Form) was bred by owner Michael Teel and foaled in Oklahoma on February 22, 2012.
While his lifetime stats of 15 victories from 33 starts and total earnings of $854,238 are impressive on their own, they do not tell the entire story of the tempestuous gelding's days at the track.
Ajs High was often a difficult horse to handle in the barns, in the paddock, and on the track. Prairie Meadows horsemen still vividly recall the night he vented his temper in the saddling stalls on his groom, trainer, and horse identifier Mike Markey, leaving all three of them nursing bumps and bruises.
The AQHA Supreme Race Horse notched 7 of his 15 victories at Prairie Meadows, including a win here in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship in 2014.
Under the father/son training duo of Charley Hunt and Charlton Hunt, Ajs High recorded the biggest win of his career in 2016 when he defeated 11 rivals in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) at Los Alamitos in California.