60 days ago on March 21st, 2015 I was reading some articles on horseracingnation.com and I saw a banner ad for Derbyville. So I clicked on it to see what it was all about. I have played different games online like most folks, and I have also had a few software based horse racing games in the past, so of course this game immediately had me interested. I dove right into things, watched some videos on youtube about the game, read the entire help section, browsed through the forums, and clicked every link I could find to orient myself with the game. I consider myself semi educated about horse racing and I love the sport so this game had me at hello.
When you start you get a barn with a few horses, that generally aren’t all that great. Mostly claimer types that struggle to win races very often, much like the real world. Anyone that goes to the track knows that the game is all about the claimers 90% of the time. Of course me being the patient type (heavy sarcasm) I had to have a champion right away. I can’t be bothered with these claimers.
I deposited a few dollars to buy some credits and looked for a bargain, I retired one of my claimer mares to create a horse by Colonial Affair, yes the Belmont winner was way cheap, and I was all over that sure fire bargain. Immediately entered it into a ALW race and waited for 3 days. The race came and I got crushed, finished 7th of 8 starters and ran a paltry 50 speed figure. That was my first lesson in tempering expectations. Lesson learned, I sent the horse to the farm for some rest. Undaunted though from my failure, I looked for more horses to breed, I learned about scratch breeding, and the addiction fully set its hooks into me. Success came quickly, my next horse was a scratch bred horse sired by Swiss Yodeler, entered into my next addiction, a HOT race. He won easily and that was probably my undoing. In the past 60 days I have bred no less than 300 (yes I said, 300!) horses. Clearly I need an intervention.
Within a week or so of starting I discovered the chat room here on the site, and started talking to fellow players. What I found was an immensely knowledgeable group of folks who know volumes of information about the game and also real horse racing. I also found them to be very generous and helpful in getting me started. I was given horses as gifts (admittedly I resisted at first out of pride.) another gentleman made some custom silks for my jockeys to wear, and they look great in the 3D race viewer. They also gave me guidance in my breedings, and racing strategy. Clearly the chat room is a wealth of information from people willing to help you be successful. They also convinced me to join a residency, which is a group of players that have private races among their members, prizes are available if you perform well, and it’s just great fellowship and fun with other players that are passionate about the game.
So what have I learned? First thing I learned is that everybody has their one special sire that they like to breed, and its often obscure and only works for them. I have a couple myself now that have done well for me early on. Second, there is no substitute for the knowledge of other long time players, I thought I knew about this sport and I only found out that I am an amateur at best compared to many of the folks here. Third, going cheap on breeding gets you cheap results, you really do have to be patient and try to acquire the best sire shares and best mares to be consistently successful. Sure you will catch an occasional surprise with cheaper horses that run well, but for the most part you need to stick to the blueblood breeding for the best results. Most importantly and I have learned this past week the hard way. Rest your horses, and don’t do like me and try to run them like its the 1930′s. You need to rest 2yo about 6-8 weeks between races, 3yo and up can turn around quicker and be good every 4-5 weeks or so. Those are not hard numbers as every horse is an individual, but I can tell you that I have went from winning 18% of races to now 12% of races, and have several injured horses in the past week, simply because I was running them too often. One extreme example is a horse I ran 4 times in 5 weeks, and that was a 2 year old.
In 60 days, I have bred 300 horses, ran 687 races, won 86 of those races. I have one stakes win, and one stakes placed horse from those breedings, so obviously its not that easy. In this game you will fail more than you succeed, and that is what makes it great. It’s very realistic to the real world, things happen in real time, and the discipline of failure is ever present. I love how the game is market based pricing for sire shares, and how patience and hard research is rewarded. There are no quick and easy ways to win here, and the competition is tough. I’ve loved every minute of my first 2 months and plan to play for many years to come.
I invite you new players to not be shy, visit the chat room, read the forums, and get involved. It’s a great community full of knowledge and genuinely kind folks that are willing to help.