02/16/2006 12:00AM

Nagle ousted as starter at Churchill

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When the field for the 132nd Kentucky Derby leaves the gate May 6, it will be with someone new as the starter. Churchill Downs on Thursday fired its longtime starter, Roger Nagle, saying a nationwide search is under way for a replacement.

A Churchill spokesman, John Asher, would not disclose the reason for Nagle's firing "as a matter of company policy in regard to personnel matters."

As for finding a successor, Asher said, "We don't have a time frame, but obviously we need someone in fairly quick order, with our spring meet starting April 29."

Nagle, who started the last eight Derbies, also had been the starter at Ellis Park, a track owned by Churchill Downs Inc. Asher said it had not yet determined if the new Churchill starter also would assume the Ellis duties.