Re: KY Downs (671 Views)

September 08, 2020 01:59PM
Hey Grinder sorry for the late response.

At my advanced age I fear that "several thousand races" might be an
underestimate but no worries.

Jennie Rees, spokesperson for Kentucky Downs (and longtime racing writer for
the Louisville Courier Journal), issued a statement that the botched start was
the result of mechanical error. I do not know if the decision that the race be
declared no contest with all wagers refunded was a stewards decision or a
Kentucky rule, but it seems like the fairest decision given the circumstances.

There are of course a number of things that can go wrong in the gate. I guess
the most common is the scenario where some but not all gates open. You have
assistant starters who have too tight a hold on a runner's head when the gate
opens.

The optics on the Monday incident were interesting. There were two runners
behind the gate. When the gates opened the assistant starter of one of the
horses that was not loaded threw his arms up in a "WTF?" gesture. The other
unloaded runner was not even facing the starting gate and as I recall may still
have been with its lead pony.

But the strangest gate incident in the probably hundreds of thousands races I
have watched happened at Oaklawn in the late 1970s. At one point (I do not know
if it was just for their end of meet Racing Festival), the Budweiser ClydesdalesTM
were brought in to pull the starting gate. In one instance after the start of a
two turn race, the team of Clydesdales refused to budge and the gate sat
precariously in front of the grandstand while the runners raced down the
backside. Finally one of the assistant starters or Clydesdale handlers was able
to get the team of huge stone eyed beasts to pull the gate safely into the
infield and a sticky situation was avoided.
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