More on Starting Gates: Old Timers Offer Their Versions of Early Barrier History, Daily Racing Form, 1922-10-29


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MORE ON STARTING GATES Old Timers Offer Their Versions of Early Barrier History. Recent Article Disputed In Several Particulars by Men Who Played a rart In Introducing Machines In America. The recently published story of the origin of the starting gate in this country has stirred up a few of the old timers, who have their own versions of jusf how the starting gate came to America. These are given for what they are worth. Phil Mc-Ginnis, whose gate is in use at various tracks, has to say: Laurel, Md., October 14. Editor Daily Racing Form. Dear Sir: Kindly permit me to point out what I consider important features overlooked in your article on "Origin of Starting Gate," in todays issue of Daily Racing Form. The Forbes and not the Ryan machine was first on the ground and the first apparatus granted a patent in the United States. This apparatus was exhibited on the old Brighton Beach race course, about the five and a half furlong post, some years before the Ryan scheme was ever heard of. The writer is not aware of any races having been started with it, but he is quite certain it was given trials in schooling horses, but only as a novelty, because there was no demand for such a device, and the Australian gate at that time was not in existence, so far as the American public was aware, from the fact that no mention of a device had been made publicly in Australia or anywhere else. The Forbes apparatus was simply a copy of a railway crossing gate and was too slow to be. of any practical use. Some years later came the report of one Lopez bringing an apparatus from Australia to San Francisco, where it was given a trial, quite successfully. No word of Ryan so far. The following spring there were a number of machines exhibited at the old Gravesend track, among them being tho Australian, brought there by starter Caldwell. There was also the Dill and the Ryan machines, both built on a different principle. The McGinnis machine was not exhibited, although it was set up in Brooklyn at that time and taken to Brighton Beach for a trial a few weeks later. None of the machines shown at Graves-end was ever successfully used on the New York tracks. The McGinnis machiva won the approval of the New York Jockey Club and was its official machine until the resignation of C. J. Fitz Gerald, who used it all through his starting career on the New York circuit. The premier starters of America, Dade, Milton and Morrissey, all use it, and the work of these experts attest the confidence they place in this apparatus. All Kencucky Jockey Club tracks use it The Maryland tracks use it. The Canadian Racing Associations use it and . all approve it without reservation. Very truly yours, PHIL McGIXNIS. Another interesting version that comes from one who should know is: Racing Form had a short article in its columns a few days ago headed Continued on eighth page. MORE ON STARTING GATES Continued from seventh page. "Origin of the Starting Gate." While much of the data Is true, one person had more to do Avith the starting gate being introduced in the East and its installation than any of those mentioned, and that was Edward W. Cole, then the turf editor of the Evening Telegram. It was he Avho could see the necessity of the gate and it was he who cabled 00 to Australia to his brother to purchase the plans of the latest and most improved gate then in use in Australia. After receiving the plans, Mr. Cole associated himself with Paddy Ryan, the originator of the starting gate and the man Avho held all the patents; Thomas D. Reilly and Milton Gray, and the first gate manufactured according to Coles instructions was built by the Griffith Iron Foundry on Fourth aenue, and erected on the Aqueduct track. For the first meeting the Aqueduct gate was the only one used. It was a stationary affair, Mr. Cole releasing the barrier and Pettingill using a recall flag at his discretion. For the first year there was much opposition to the use of the gate. Jockeys did not like it and did all possible things to haAe it kicked but. Owners, too, opposed it for the reason that their horses had not been educated to its use, and when Cole accidentally caught jockey Harry Griffin in the Avebbing, burning his neck badly, Major Belmont ordered it off the Morris Park track. The foundation had been laid, howe-er, and C. J. Fitz Gerald and his brother-in-law, Mr. McGinnis, decided to build a gata they thought would fill the bill, improving the Ryan patents by adding an electric release deice. This gate is still in uso by McGinnis and operated by both starters Dade and Morrissey in Kentucky and Canada. After the Morris Park incident and the accident to Harry Griffin, Mr. Cole severed his connection Avith the starting gate business, the battle for its control interfering too much with his editorial work, leaAing the field to McGinnis, who, through close attention to business and hard work, has a perfect machine for lining up horses, but all credit for introducing and installing the first gate in the East is due Mr. Cole and the late Paddy Ryan, who first conceived the idea of a starting gate.

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