A HISTORY OF COMPETITION
In the 1940's the New York Jockey Club was looking for a way to get out of an unfavorable lease agreement with Puett Electrical Starting Gate, Inc. They approached their starter, George Cassidy, a well-known and trusted resource in the horse racing industry, to ask if he had any ideas for supplying alternate starting gates. George contacted Bill Christ of Hempstead Welding, and with George's knowledge of horse racing and Bill's expertise, a successful presentation of a starting gate, surpassing Puett's designs, was made to the Club. Thus, the United Starting Gate Corporation was founded in 1947.
The original United starting gates were built by Hempstead Welding in New York, and years later in Charlestown, West Virginia where the current design was formulated. The first starting gates for horses were constructed of angle iron and round tubing, in sections to be bolted together, making shipping by rail easier. The design was later changed to square tubing which was less apt to flex, and constructed in one piece.
Over the years, Puett, United's main competitor, had changed ownership and ended up in the hands of Syracuse University. In 1965, United bought all the existing equipment and rights to the "Puett" name, and then conducted business under the two separate corporate names. Much of the equipment purchased in the deal needed major upgrading. The labor and
Starter George Cassidy at Belmont.
time-intensive process to do so led George Cassidy down the path of using a standardized gate design, which in turn provided higher quality and reliability.
Today, United and Puett conduct business under one name - United Puett Electrical Starting Gate Corporation. Headquartered in East Haddam, CT, the company is headed up by President and CEO Michael Costello, son of Thomas Costello, the first General Manager of the United Starting Gate Corporation. Vice President Noel Cassidy, son of George Cassidy, oversees United Puett's manufacturing and repair shop in Westminster, VT.