Help Wanted: Starter at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs is searching for someone to fill the post of official starter, a position that includes the duties of sending the horses off in each year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

While company policy precludes Churchill Downs from providing details of personnel matters, spokesman John Asher has confirmed that former starter Roger Nagle is no longer associated with the company.

Nagle, 61, who was an assistant starter for 22 years before succeeding Tom Wagoner as starter upon the latter's retirement in 1997, has also served as official starter at Churchill-owned Ellis Park.

In addition to serving in the high-profile position of being the Derby starter, the Churchill Downs starter also serves in several administrative capacities. Among the starter's duties are ensures that unraced horses have been properly schooled in the gate before making their career debuts and also can require schooling for horses that have displayed problems in the gate or who have refused to break when the gates open.

Asher said a nationwide search is underway for a new starter.