Claussen: Behind the scenes with the starting gate crew

The Steriline Racing starting gates are well known for outlasting all other gates, with models still in use for more than 20 years. Steriline starting gates are manufactured from high-grade steel to increase strength without adding weight. The entire starting gate steel structure is galvanised or zinc coated and additionally protected with a high adhesion abrasive resistant twin pack paint or a powder coated system most usually in a white colour.

Steriline starting gates are manufactured with dual wheels to provide maximum maneuverability and minimise racing surface compaction.

The Starting Gate Crew: the (Sigh…) Cowboys of Horse Racing

Manual steering is also fitted to both ends of each starting gate to provide flexibility of towing from either end. Steriline starting gates have been in use at many racetracks around the world for more than 10 years, providing a cost-effective solution over the life cycle of the starting gate. In many cases, prominent race clubs will sell their old gates to smaller clubs, and they are still in use long after 10 years. Steriline is well known for working with customers and the continuous support they provide for the life of their products.

Horse Flips on Jockey in Gate - Mother's Day Horse Racing - Miles City, MT

The horses, whether in gate training in the morning or escorted into the gate in the afternoon—are in the safest, most caring hands in the world. Roy as Head Starter presents an example of the Consummate Horseman—and his men live up to that, for the very lives of many horses and humans depend on it.

Their bravery and inner and outer strength are not a matter of opinion. Every day these brave, remarkable men handle horses who weigh up to 1, pounds. Many of these horses are scared—and a frightened animal is a potentially lethal animal. Those beautiful hooves, which cover ground so swiftly when going straight—can become weapons.

The job of the Assistant Starters is to not only calm down the horse, to get her safely into the gate—but then to jump into the individual space with that horse and the jockey atop. Three living beings in one very narrow, extremely claustrophobic space, for a split second—then the electro-magnetic gate doors slam open, and horse and rider are off like a bullet.

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The safety of horse and rider, and the uneventful start of a race, all depend on the swift, centered actions of that third being in the gate. Their typical raceday begins at Remember, this is after a full morning that began at 6: They mark their own programs for every single horse, and are assigned their horses for the day. The horses approach the gate for the first race of the day—and the crew is ready. Donning flak jackets to prevent crushed organs in the event of being kicked in the chest , they swagger out onto the track, leather lead in-hand or hanging from their belts.

Starting Gates | Starting Stalls | Racing Barriers | Steriline Racing

Women sigh, men wish they knew their secret. Approaching the gate, they hope for the best day and wisely anticipate possible disaster. A race card may feature ten contests for the day. Regardless of how many races, the team that mans the starting gate at a Thoroughbred racetrack is ready for whatever comes up.

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Deep knowledge of each horse; hands-on experience with the equine contenders and the detailed notes of the Head Starter prepare the crew for whatever glitches or malfunctions may occur. The key to success for the gate crew is that, as relaxed and random as it may look—it is anything but.

Preparing nervous horses not to fear the starting gate is all in a hard day's work.

The Cowboys of Horse Racing: The starting gate crew is also responsible for hanging post position numbers in metal slots at the top of the starting gate. Their bravery and inner and outer strength are not a matter of opinion. Impervious to the angst she caused, the little filly simply pinned her ears at the crew, who were now being more forceful in their attempts to load her. Daniels chooses his words carefully, but when he talks, his crew listens. Anyone who has ever watched a horserace has seen the familiar routine of horses preparing for competition. Another factor that comes into play is having a horse relaxed and focused but also balanced with all four feet on the ground.

A carefully choreographed ballet in which every dancer has studied their steps beforehand makes for an exhilarating, blood-pumping experience for fans. Roy leads his team of good men, brave souls who fit every possible description: They wear chaps and jeans, or the standard khakis with their white polo shirts and flak vests.

They are married or single. They have homes, and lives, and children and they just happen to perform the most life-risking job in the entire world of professional sports. Squeezed into the narrow chutes of the massive starting gate, the horses are poised for a six-furlong race.

Monmouth Park: Training Horses for the Starting Gate

Daniels confirms that the thoroughbreds are loaded, quiet in the gate with heads up. He squeezes the starter button. The doors spring open.

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With a hoot and a holler, jockeys urge their mounts toward the distant turn. For Daniels and his crew of assistant starters, race day is the show after hours of rehearsals. They have worked all week with trainers and exercise riders to assure that each horse will come to the starting gate, walk in, stand straight and break when the doors open.

He has been around racing since he hot-walked horses as a teen in the early s. With only a break for college and military service, he has worked the racing circuit for more than 50 years, arriving at Monmouth in He became the official starter this season after many years as an assistant starter. Daniels chooses his words carefully, but when he talks, his crew listens.

Slim and ruddy faced, Daniels is an old-school track man. Several are riding toward the starting gate at the far end of the grandstand straightaway.