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New gate at The Meadows helps outside horses win more

March 20, 2009
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In February, The Meadows introduced a new starting gate with a deeper slant to allow horses drawn outside to be closer to the gate at the start than those posted inside. The goal was to mitigate the disadvantages of an unfavorable draw, thereby creating more exciting racing for fans and a more level playing field for horsemen. Early returns indicate that the plan is working.
 
Through the year’s first 312 races, which featured the old gate, horses from post positions 6 through 9 collectively won roughly 24 percent of the races. With the new gate, those same post positions produced more than 31 percent of the winners through the initial 306 races.
 
The biggest gainer was post position 7, which saw its win percentage jump from 4.7 to 10.1. Taking the biggest hits were post positions 5 (18.9 percent to 15.7 percent) and 1 (14.7 percent to 11.1 percent). The results also include an anomaly: the winning percentage for post position 3, rather than showing a decline, improved from 13.1 to 15.0. That’s a useful reminder that post position is only one of many factors that influences the outcome of any race.
 
“Clearly these finding are unscientific, but they do suggest that our new gate is having the desired effect,” said David Wiegmann, acting general manager for The Meadows. “We want to provide our fans with the most enjoyable, competitive product, and the new gate is helping us achieve that goal.”            
 
Manufactured by Howard Starting Gate Co. to the same specifications as the gate used at Harrah’s Chester, the new unit features a 14-foot slant that enables a horse with post position 9 to be as much as 14 feet closer to the gate at the start than a horse leaving from post position 1. (Meadows)
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