Assiniboia Downs (ASD) proudly announces a groundbreaking change in Thoroughbred racing, as it is believed to be the first track in North America to eliminate the run-up to the start pole on all distances, effective the start of the 2024 meet. This innovative move aims to provide more accurate and consistent timing for horses across all distances.

With this new approach at ASD, horses will now be clocked as soon as they leave the starting gate, as opposed to the horses historically having about 25 feet to run before the clock starts.

The run-up to the start pole varies significantly among thoroughbred tracks, leading to inconsistencies in race timings and challenges for horseplayers to factor that into their handicapping. The distance run is often much longer than the race distance and sometimes the horses reach the start pole at full speed, which will skew the times and the horseplayer’s expectations for the horses.

Darren Dunn, CEO of Assiniboia Downs, expressed enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, “We know that the accuracy of the distances and timing of our racing is critical to our horseplayers, and we want to take full advantage of the technology to help serve our fans to the best of our ability. We have been talking about it for a while now, and with the Equibase GPS System solving the technical concerns, there was nothing holding us back to do it. We think it is the right thing to do and will help to add further transparency to the charts for horseplayers and anyone that follows our races and horses.”

ASD’s official distances were re-surveyed with the installation of the Equibase GPS System, in partnership with Total Performance Data and Gmax Technology Ltd., in 2023, and minor adjustments were made to ensure the accuracy of the various distances.

This enhancement takes it a step further where two gate-to-wire timing devices are affixed to the panels of two stalls on the starting gate that will sense the precise moment the gates are opened. This technology, along with wireless beam timing sensors at the finish line, provide an exact time of the race from the starting gate to the finish line. GPS-enabled devices in the horses’ saddle towels also enable live tracking and enhanced graphics for the race.

“This initiative underscores ASD’s commitment to advancing the integrity and transparency of thoroughbred racing,” remarked Dunn. “By standardizing the starting conditions across all distances, we aim to further improve the racing experience for participants and the betting public.”

Will Bradley, Managing Director of Gmax Technology Ltd. commented that “timing races from the starting gates is the norm in many other racing jurisdictions outside of North America using the Gmax system. As well as the benefits to those interested in understanding horse performance, it simplifies racing operations as there is no longer a need to place sensors at every separate start line. We are delighted that our technology is giving ASD the flexibility to make this choice.”

The new format will debut on opening night, Monday, May 20, 2024 at 7:30 pm Central Time. For more information, please visit