Overcoming a Bad Start
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

In last Sunday’s Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga It’s Tricky stumbled coming out of the gate, not once but twice! This unfortunate turn of events took her out of her preferred running style of being up on the pace. In many cases this would take a horse out of the race altogether, but she mounted an impressive bid despite not winning.

While a horrible start is legitimate excuse for a sub-par effort, or even a narrow defeat, it makes a victory even more impressive. A few notable wins from bad breaks come to mind, while none of these winners had quite the same level of bad break as It’s Tricky, their victories were impressive nonetheless, see for yourself!

2007 Belmont Stakes – Rags to Riches
Rags to Riches, the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in over 100 years, went to her knees at the break but dueled and defeated eventual Horse of the Year Curlin in a thrilling rendition of the Belmont Stakes. Watch the outside of the gate.


Video courtesy of NYRA

2009 Wood Memorial – I Want Revenge
The 2009 Wood Memorial favorite I Want Revenge missed the break and then almost got stuck in traffic in the stretch, but he was able to break free and get up in time. Watch post position 2, the closet to the fence.


Video courtesy of NYRA

2011 La Troienne – Blind Luck
Champion Blind Luck looked as though she might be heading for her sixth straight defeat when she stumbled out of the gate in the 2011 La Troienne. It’s wasn’t uncommon for her sit at the back of the pack but the break left her with a lot of work to do (view replay at Blood-Horse).

Update: Norm S., who tweets at @The_Knight_Sky, brought up an interesting point, noting: “Rags to Riches, Animal Kingdom, I Want Revenge were never “same racehorse” after enduring starting gate mishaps.” I responded by noting that Blind Luck went on to win two more times. One of those wins was in the 2011 Delaware Handicap against eventual Horse of the Year Havre de Grace in a race that was widely considered one of the best of the year. But, it’s worth noting that such a disastrous start could have a negative impact on It’s Tricky, only time will tell (and in the meantime we’ll keep our finger’s crossed for her!).

Even More Update: I couldn’t track down a replay, here’s the results chart of Jilbab’s 2002 Coaching Club American Oaks courtesy of Brisnet.com. And, it’s hard to see the stumble, but here’s a link to the video of Seattle Slew’s Kentucky Derby win in 1977.

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