There are plenty of things that can go wrong in a race. There’s also something that can go awry before it.
If there’s one mishap in a horse race that should resonate with handicappers it’s when a horse breaks through the starting gate before the race begins.
While there are not statistics to back it up, talk to any longtime racetracker and they can probably count on one hand all of the times when a horse acted up enough to bust through the starting gate and still won the race.
There are a variety of reasons why that happens. The horse could hurt itself while slamming into the unyielding metal of the starting gate. Or it could lose its focus on racing. Whatever the reason, most horses simply do not recover from it enough to cross the finish line first.
This, of course, leads to two courses of actions whenever it happens. For one, if you can, cancel your win bets. For the few times you get burned by doing this, in the long run you’ll be happy that you did it. The other rule of thumb is to ignore a horse’s performance when you see in the past performances that it broke through the gate.
As in other instances with a troubled trip, breaking through the gate is not a sign of improving form and cannot be played blindly. What you should do is look at the race before the mishap at the starting gate to get some insight as to what to expect in its next race.
It’s certainly not unreasonable to expect a horse to return to the form of its previous race after such an eventful race.
She came into her previous start, the Ginger Brew Stakes, off two wins in her first two career starts, the second of them coming in the Wait a While Stakes. Then in the Ginger Brew, she broke through the starting gate and lacked her sharp early speed while finishing 10th.
So when Cheermeister returned on Feb. 1 in the Sweetest Chant Stakes, her past performances showed that 10th-place finish in her last start. Yet if you drew a line through that race and looked at the one before it, you saw a front-running stakes win on the same main track at the same one-mile distance as the Sweetest Chant.
You also saw a nice betting opportunity on a horse who was now 7-1 as opposed to her 5-1 price in her last start.
If you jumped aboard, you were definitely of good cheer as Cheermeister rolled to victory by a little less than a length and paid $17.20 to win for a $2 bet.
She also showed why watching what happens before a race can sometimes be just as important as watching what happens during the race.