April 22, 2021

Churchill Downs to use 20-stall starting gate for 2020 Kentucky Derby

The Steriline starting gate

Churchill Downs for the first time plans on using a custom-made, 20-stall starting gate for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 2, the track has announced.

Steriline Racing, based in Australia and a provider of racetrack equipment to racing organizations throughout the world, has agreed to design and construct the gate which will be used for the Derby only. The standard 14-stall starting gate will continue to be used for all other races.

“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 Inc.

The new 20-stall starting gate, which is due to arrive in early April, is 65-feet wide and will fit comfortably within the 120-foot space on the racetrack at the quarter-mile pole for the start of the Kentucky Derby.

The standard 14-stall starting gate and an attached six-stall auxiliary starting gate has been used in the Kentucky Derby 54 times since 1942, including each of the last 22 years. The introduction of a contiguous 20-stall gate will eliminate a gap that had previously existed between post positions 14 and 15, the former in the standard gate and the latter in the auxiliary gate.

The head-on view of the former gate configuration with the auxiliary gate on the left (Churchill Downs)