February 3, 2020 / 9:20 PM / 2 months ago

Horse racing: Churchill Downs to use new starting gate at 2020 Kentucky Derby

FILE PHOTO: May 4, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; A general view at the start during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - A new custom-made 20-stall starting gate will be in place for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby in May to ensure a uniform start for the largest field in American horse racing, Churchill Downs said on Monday.

The gate, which is being designed and constructed by Australian-based Steriline Racing, will eliminate the wide gap between post position No. 14 in the standard gate and No. 15 in the auxiliary gate, Churchill Downs said in a news release.

“We believe that a new custom-made, 20-stall starting gate will deliver a clean start for all horses and enhance safety for horses and riders in the Kentucky Derby,” said Mike Ziegler, executive director of racing for Churchill Downs Incorporated.

The new gate, which is due to arrive in early April, will be utilized exclusively for the Kentucky Derby while the standard starting gate will continue to be used for all other races.

Starting gates have been used for racing at Churchill Downs since 1930, with the first closed electronically-operated 14-stall starting gate introduced in 1941.

A six-stall ‘auxiliary starting gate’, which was attached to the 14-horse starting gate, was first used in 1942.

The Kentucky Derby will take place on May 2.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

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