Final Furlong
May 22, 2021 11:32am

Newbie Guide

What type of horse should I join with?

This all depends on personal preference, but here is a bit of information on each horse type:

After I get my first horse, where do I start?

Depending on what horse you joined with, you'll start with different options.
Racehorse - Enter races and hope to win
Broodmares - Figure out what sort of stud fee you can afford. Figure out your mare's strengths, and if she has any foals, what they were like. Then pick a stud that seems to complement her.
Yearling/Weanling - Wait. ;-)

You'll probably want to try and buy/claim at least one racehorse, regardless of what horse you start with. See the "how many horses and what type of horses should I try and buy?" section below.

Be persistent. Buy (cheaper) horses that will run for you. Fillies can be retired to broodmaredom when they're no longer happy running. What's the rush to breed? The more mares you have the more studfees you have to pay. Icky. I wouldn't stick your ponies into a stakes, 'cause the buggers are expensive and your chance of getting payback's not so good. Allowances and maidens and claimers are all good. Check, check, check running lines. See if the bugger moved up quickly at the end of the race (needs more distance) or started fading. That'll give you a hint as to what sort of distance they need. Adjust accordingly.     --Cat, Cricket Hill

Which races should I enter?

Maidens and claimers are your best bet starting out (assuming your horse qualifies for maidens). Starter allowances are also usually a safe bet. A lot of stakes quality horses end up in the NW2/NW3/Allowance races, though, so you're best avoiding those until you know your horse is up to that level of competition.

Always try and find the cheapest, lowest quality race your horse qualifies for. That way, if your horse wins, you have some extra pocket change and can try moving up a level in races (from maidens to claimers, etc.). But if your horse loses, you haven't lost TOO much money.

How many horses and what type of horses should I try and buy?

The real key, I find...first, don't buy weanlings or yearlings unless you know you can throw away that money. True, I bought one from the Annual Select Auction, but I set a max bid of the amount I could afford to lose. Because those horses will not earn you money until April of their two year old year, period, the purchase price is a long term investment...unless you want to try your hand at pinhooking, and that seldom works in the virtual world.

Second...geldings are often a bargain. Fillies will almost always cost a little more, but that can pan out if you have the long term view. However, nothing helps more on a new game than a reliable old allowance gelding.

Third...I've noticed that two year olds tend to be very finicky and unreliable. You should go for older horses, and only look at two year olds after you have a couple of reliable paycheck earners, because they're more work for less gain unless you have an exceptional one.

Fourth...broodmares. Bear in mind that a broodmare will cost you her purchase price plus the breeding price, unless you buy one that's bred. You can get no return on that until at least the foal is weaned. Depending on the time of year, it can be cheaper to buy a three or four year old filly, run her and then retire her to breed the next year, bearing in mind that weanlings are easy to get hold of.

Fifth...resist the temptation to spend more than a horse is worth. Yes, some people do inflate their prices.     --Teri, Starview Racing

How much should I expect to pay for horses?

That depends on who's selling the horse and what type of horse it is. Generally breeding stallions and stakes-winning racehorses fetch the highest prices, though proven broodmares can be very pricey, too. Anything with popular bloodlines can also claim a large price tag.

A lot of older stables will base their prices on: 1) selling quickly/cheaply, so the horse is priced low 2) selling based on their perception of its value, so the horse is priced high. Newbies, on the other hand, just want/need to make a quick buck, so horses they post for sale are (usually) priced at more than they're likely to earn soon. (Usually newbies seem to post horses for sale for about what they've earned on the track, ignoring that they earned that over the course of 1+ years of racing).

When and how can I sell my horses?

You may sell any horse that you start with, or buy, after 6 months of ownership, or 3 "uses" (3 races for a racehorse, 3 foals for a broodmare, 3 breedings for a stud), whichever comes first.
You may sell a horse via their page (Click "Edit Horse Information" and then fill out the sale price info), or at an auction during the year.

How much money should I keep to ensure I don't go bankrupt?

Well, your main expenses that will always happen are taxes. You can view what your taxes will be if you do nothing else in the game until 12/31. The other expense(s) depend on the horses you own...entry fees for racers and stud fees for mares, primarily. Other than taxes, there's no set amount that you "need", but it is good to stay above $10,000 at all times, if possible, so that then if your horse decides to take a month/season-long vacation from actual running and spend it staring at the rest of the fields' pretty tails, you'll be able to still afford entry fees for him when he does decide to actually move again. ;-)

How do you tell how much rest to give your horse between races?

Horses need between 5 and 25 days of rest between races. The unofficial recommended rest is 10-14 days. If your horse doesn't seem to be doing well at this level of rest, though, try racing more/less often.

Rest = energy gained, but fitness lost. So if your horse only needs 8 days of rest and you're giving him 15, all you've done is make him more fat. However, if he needs 21 and you give him 10, then he'll be more fit than if he were allowed to rest longer, but he won't be anywhere near full energy level.

Basically, just fiddle with your horses until you find a good range for them.

What do you do if the next "good" race for your horse is weeks away?

You don't need to find an "ideal" race. I race all of my horses (maidens and millionaires alike) in whatever race that fits their racing schedule (as far as rest) and looks like they might do well in...I've tossed MSWs into 30k allowances, and I've been known to toss a maiden into a stakes race (only with 2yos, though). Until you know exactly what your horse likes (and even when you do), why limit him/her? I've been pleasantly surprised often times by the results my horses produce in races that, on paper, look all wrong for them.

Also, with the balance of energy level + fitness, it can sometimes hurt your horse more to wait longer for a race (or, race too soon) even if the race is ideal. If your horse has a month off and is at, say, 50% fitness, it won't matter if the race is ideal if all the other horses in the field are at 80%+ fitness. Likewise, even if your horse is at 80% fitness, if his energy level is 10% he's not going to be able to compete with a horse that's 70% energy and 70% fitness.

What sort of equipment should you try on your horses?

With regards to equipment, I'd first race the horse naked, just to give me a baseline of how my pony will run. Then I run through ALL the equipment (unless they suddenly start winning like crazy), see which gives me the best placing/best SF number. Finally, you can try combinations of equipment to see if that helps them out further.     -- Cat, Cricket Hill

How does age affect a horse's racing ability?

Horses can be immature until age 2 or as late as 5 years (!). Once they hit their peak, it can last anywhere from ~1 year to ~3 or even 4 years. Once they are past their peak, they again suffer in their racing ability, though this may be slightly less than when they were immature, as they now have racing experience. (Babies suffer a minor penalty until they get used to racing).

How do you pick horses to buy/claim, and how do you know if they're worth the price?

As for how to pick horses to buy...generally, I'd ask myself several questions:
  1. Has the horse shown itself to be moderately consistent? (i.e. on the board, say, at least 30% of the time)
  2. Does the horse show potential to improve? (i.e. the horse has only raced at one distance, or on one surface, or with one set of equipment, etc)
  3. Does the horse look to be immature, at its peak, past its prime, etc? knowing this will help judge its future money earning potential
  4. Has the horse earned any money?
  5. What percentage of the asking/claiming price has the horse won?
  6. Does the horses' relatives give any indication of its potential? (i.e. his sire was awesome over fences but sucked on the flat, his 1/2 sibs were great endurance runners, etc...some indication that a change in race/equipment/surface might help this horse)

Does it matter how much money a horse has made when choosing to buy? Is a horse with $5,000 better than one with $3,000? Are earnings less significant than the other factors?

Depends on what race it is. For say, a $10,000 claiming race, $5,000 probably would be better than $3,000. However, if it were a $5,000 claimer, it'd be a bit more negligible. Also, it depends on how the money is distributed. For example, a horse that has a ton more earnings than any other horse may have earned most of its money by placing in stakes races. If you have a horse that got a distant 5th in a stakes and therefore has $50,000 in earnings compared to a horse that's won 2 claimers and placed a few times and only has $10,000, I'd take the winner.

For older horses (like A.P. Uno in the in-depth claiming guide below), the fact that most of his money was earned over a year ago was the deciding factor. If he'd still been consistently earning money today, it'd be a different story, but his RR for this year is something like 11-0-0-1-0...not very impressive, and certainly not an indication that he'll win back $10,000 for you anytime soon.

Is it a mistake to try to pick a claiming horse from a group of horses who've only run a few times?

No...it's just harder to pick the "winning horse" when most of them haven't raced much.

Also, for FF-owned horses (assuming they're entered early enough to be claimed...which is rare!), it's all a crapshoot. FF horses are automatically entered via a script, so literally no thought goes into what race they'll go into aside from how long it's been since they raced, and what race(s) they qualify for. So you could buy a FF horse that's 5-0-0-0 and put some equipment on it or put it in a race that actually seems to match its bloodlines/preferences, and have a winner. Or, you could find a FF horse that's 8-3-2-1 because it's only run in 5-horse races and gotten lucky, and then it would lose the next 5 races you enter it in because the fields are larger.

If you're just looking for racehorses to start making some money do you just look for $10,000 horses or is it worth gambling $30,000 on a horse if you think it might do well?

Treat it like claiming. Only spend on a horse what you think it can win you back in, say, 2 or 3 months. (Until you can afford to spend lavishly, of course ). A bigger risk can mean a bigger payoff, but it also depends on who's selling the horse. A lot of older stables will base their prices on: 1) selling quickly/cheaply, so the horse is priced low 2) selling based on their perception of its value, so the horse is priced high. Newbies, on the other hand, just want/need to make a quick buck, so horses they post for sale are (usually) priced at more than they're likely to earn soon. (Usually newbies seem to post horses for sale for about what they've earned on the track, ignoring that they earned that over the course of 1+ years of racing).

If I claim a few horses that won't ever make any money I've effectively wasted my money or do all horses with the right luck and strategy have a chance of earning?

As for luck...horses have a random chance of running completely opposite to their actual stats. So yes, presumably if you put the worst horse in the game into the best race in the game, it has a random chance to become the best horse in the game.

Can you choose equipment for a horse based on its relatives?

I wouldn't go so far as to say you can choose equipment, but you can at least get an idea of what sort of "max potential" your horse might have. If he's 1/2 sib to 5 multi-millionaires, you can guess that, unless his sire is a complete dud, he's got more potential to do well than a horse that's 1/2 sib to 5 winning horses. Likewise, if you know that all of his sibs love jumping, you might want to switch him to jumps sooner than you might a different horse.

In-depth guide to claiming (and, by extension, buying):

As stated above, I'd ask myself several questions when picking a horse to buy:
  1. Has the horse shown itself to be moderately consistent? (i.e. on the board, say, at least 30% of the time)
  2. Does the horse show potential to improve? (i.e. the horse has only raced at one distance, or on one surface, or with one set of equipment, etc)
  3. Does the horse look to be immature, at its peak, past its prime, etc? knowing this will help judge its future money earning potential
  4. Has the horse earned any money?
  5. What percentage of the asking/claiming price has the horse won?
  6. Does the horses' relatives give any indication of its potential? (i.e. his sire was awesome over fences but sucked on the flat, his 1/2 sibs were great endurance runners, etc...some indication that a change in race/equipment/surface might help this horse)

Based on the answers to those questions, you can figure out if the horse is worth the claiming price. (Theoretically.. all racing's a game of luck)

Take race #3 from 12/1/08. We had 6 horses in the race.
Waccamaw
1. his RR (pre-12/1) is 10-1-2-2-0 $19,000 - this is 50% on the board, so this horse is pretty consistent
2. he has been kinda all over the place, and this is his first SC start
3. hard to say, given that he didn't race at age 2, but you can assume he's either near his peak or at it based on his age/birthday (early foals mature quicker)
4. yes
5. 190%
6. not really - he could potentially be the best foal out of this mare

SoulOfTheGame
1. his RR (pre-12/1) is 23(5)-4-7-2(1)-5(4) $126,050 - this is 78% on the board, so this horse is quite consistent (especially for the stakes)
2. he seems to enjoy steeplechase
3. again, hard to say, given that he didn't race at age 2, but you can assume he's either near his peak or at it based on his age/birthday (early foals mature quicker)
4. yes
5. 1026%
6. his 4yo brother is a SW but appears very inconsistent - however, he also likes jumping

Silent Echo
1. his RR (pre-12/1) is 20-0-5-3-2 $30,550 - this is 55% on the board, so this horse is pretty consistent, though still a maiden
2. his record has been improving the past few months
3. this is his best year as a 4yo, so you assume he's at his peak
4. yes
5. 300%
6. his 5yo older brother had his best year as a 2yo on the flat

Bluberi Horse Two
1. his RR (pre-12/1) is 15-0-4-2-2 $24,600 - this is 53% on the board, so this horse is pretty consistent, though still a maiden
2. he looks good on every surface but wet
3. again, hard to say, given that he didn't race at age 2, but you can assume he's either near his peak or at it based on his age/birthday (early foals mature quicker)
4. yes
5. 240%
6. he has 2 stakes-level siblings, so could improve

Gilded Beauty
1. her RR (pre-12/1) is 7-0-1-2-1 $7,900 - this is 57% on the board, so this horse is pretty consistent, though still a maiden
2. she looks good on fast tracks, at least
3. she's only run this year, but she's 6, so you have to assume that she's probably slightly past her peak
4. yes
5. 79%
6. no in-game relatives

A.P. Uno
1. his RR (pre-12/1) is 24-2-1-3-0 $44,050 - this is 25% on the board, so this horse is not very consistent
2. he looks pretty inconsistent/untalented this year
3. he's 5, and his best year was 2007, so you assume he's past his peak
4. yes
5. 440%
6. he has a winning sister

Given that, we have some nice horses and some questionable ones. If I were to "rank" these horses in order of preference for claiming them, I'd rank them:
1. SoulOfTheGame
2. Waccamaw
3. Silent Echo
4/5. Bluberi Horse Two/Gilded Beauty (GB could make a nice/cheap broodmare next year, otherwise she's clearly #5 pick)
6. A.P. Uno

I would say any but A.P. Uno are worth the claiming price, though only the top 3 are likely to earn that much very soon.

So if we look at just the top 3 picks, we see that they came in 2nd, 1st, and 3rd respectively. The bottom 2 picks finished a distance 5th/6th.

Had we claimed any of the top 3 picks, we'd have a horse that is 50-78% on the board, shows good consistency/ability, and has already earned over the claiming price. Also, as you can see, Waccamaw clearly likes jumping, so he will likely improve further in the future.

All answers provided by Shanthi, unless otherwise noted.
This page was last modified September 19, 2007