Welcome to the game! You have found the most incredible horse racing simulation in the history of mankind. I assume you have been here for more than a couple of days and have realized the truth in that statement. You are hooked. You want to have horses race every day and not just race but WIN! Sure you can load up a few stables with $100 horses in the auctions and maybe get lucky and win some cheap claimers but that doesn’t get you to the Bluegrass Derby now does it? If your goal is to breed a two year old who will take you there next year tough luck you are in the wrong place! There are players who have been here from the beginning – 1998! who have never made that starting gate. But they have decades of fun times and nice horses to look back on and they log in every week just like you do and still get pleasure from this game so many years later. This is a game of patience and strategy and it will reward you mightily if you approach it from that standpoint.
Now that we have all taken a collective deep breath we can get to the real business at hand – how to maximize your enjoyment of this great game. At this point you probably know there are three ways to pay to breed new horses: you can use bps; you can purchase credits with real money; you can use sire cards. Bps and sire cards are earned when your horses race, the better they run the more you get. Credits are most often purchased but can also be earned by writing for the BTB or winning contests such as the weekly tipping contest. Many players have enjoyed this game for years without ever breaking out the credit card and buying credits and they win some big time races while they are at it. But in all honesty credits are fun to have and their purchase does support the upkeep costs around here so we will discuss strategies for both free and paid play.
What are your goals for this game? There is no right or wrong way to play the game. Everyone is different in what their goals are and how they define success. No player is gonna sniff at winning the Bluegrass Derby trophy but realistically it is not the first priority for many (most?) players. Some people prefer to point for the biggest race in their home countries; others like developing families over generations – being able to point to that new two year old and tell you the inspiration for her granddam’s name; developing a diamond in the rough is pretty exciting for many folks and there is nothing more satisfying than giving an unknown sire his first stakes winner; and that claiming game is pretty addictive by itself. So what will make you happy?
If you really want to compete in the top level races the best way to get there is to use the best breeding stock available. The easiest way to do that is to buy credits and a lot of them. If you have a general knowledge of thoroughbred pedigrees you know the names to look out for – Galileo, Tapit, War Front, Fastnet Rock, Deep Impact, etc. They are expensive in real life and they are expensive in the game. When you first start out you will mostly be stuck with scratchbreeding – and again you will want to look for top of the line names to fill out your pedigrees such as Street Cry, Montjeu and Kingmambo. A really good scratchbred can cost over 2000 credits (yes that’s $20.00). If you are going to spend that many credits on one horse there is a way to maximize your investment – specify that you want a filly and pay the extra cost for it. Yes the male horses win the most prestigious races but in the long run a well bred broodmare can produce a string of successful runners even if she herself is not one. One other thing should be noted here. If you are taking a long term strategy by breeding expensive broodmare prospects, consider choosing the three year old option when you are on the breeding screen. Horses can be bred starting at age four and mares produce their last foals at age twenty.
Acquiring mares is the best strategy for long term success in the game. If you want to invest in scratchbreeding your own I highly recommend it. Just don’t spend the rent money on shiny sim prospects! There are other ways to acquire mares in the game though. Mares, sometimes even well bred stakes winners do run in claiming races. Checking the claiming races day in and day out can pay off when you find a good one. There is a lot of competition for good claiming prospects and mares bring an added value to their new owners so they are often very sought after. Two strategies to consider – keep $150,000 and 300 bps in one stable at all times. I know when you are starting out that is a lot of both to earn and to hold on to. But the really stellar mare prospects are often running for those high claiming tags. Paradoxically the best mare prospects often have fewer players trying for them because the price is so steep. An ok mare running for $30,000 might have a dozen slips in on her whereas an objectively better mare running for $150,000 might have two. You can also look for mares in the auction but their price tags are often inflated beyond what even this veteran player keeps in the bank.
There are two other ways to try and get good broodmares. The first is the mares open to all players. These are mares that are either owned by the computer or by players who have quit the game. Mares owned by the CPU become available to all players in January, player owned mares open at the stroke of midnight on October 1st every year. Some of these mares are very, very good. They all start off very, very expensive. There is an extra charge tacked on to using open mares which starts high and drops over time. The other way to use a broodmare that does not belong to you is to ask a veteran player to use one of theirs. This is usually done in the chat room which you should frequent if you have not already (hint many players in the chatroom like giving free gift horses to new players!). Players who have been around for a long time have access to hundreds of broodmares of varying quality but rarely will they breed all of those mares every year. Not everyone is open to sharing their mares and how a deal is negotiated is really on a player by player basis. But it never hurts to ask.
Ok so now that we have covered how to pay game-creator Mike’s mortgage let’s talk about some cost saving strategies. Again you can totally play for free and have fun and be successful. Generally speaking bps have more purchasing power than credits do. A top level sire might cost 1000+ credits all the time. But that same sire might go for only 600 bps – a steal! Well it is if you have 600 bps plus some way to pay for the DS and DDS. As mentioned, you earn bps when your horses race well and often. A grade one win can earn you 60 bps in one shot. But typically your grade one racehorse needs six weeks between starts and wins are not guaranteed. Cheap horses can race every two weeks though and can earn 40 bps depending on the conditions. 40bps every two weeks is a pretty nice way to start your pot.
There are ways in the game to maximize your chances for producing a slow horse who is a money machine. One of the best ways to do that is to learn about local bred races. These are races restricted to horses that were bred in the area where the race will be run. So a horse whose sire stands in New Zealand will be eligible to race in New Zealand local races. New Zealand has some very nice sires who stand there but in general there is a parity of talent. The best sire in New Zealand and the 15th best sire produce offspring who are usually competitive against each other. In regions where the best sires congregate – Kentucky, Ireland, Australia, Great Britain and Japan there is a huge difference between the best and the worst. A low-end stallion in Kentucky is probably significantly better than the 15th best sire in New Zealand. At the time of this writing that distinction goes to a horse named Nadeem who has sired 125 runners in his sim career, of which seven are stakes winners – certainly no slouch!. He stands for a USD coverted fee of $4700. In Kentucky you can spend $5000 to breed to Northern Afleet – who is ranked 78th for active Kentucky sires in the game (their current costs are also similar in the game, about 20 credits & bps apart). A horse sired by Northern Afleet in the game will likely run faster speeds for you and is more likely to win a listed or a graded stakes race. But a horse sired by Nadeem who runs in New Zealand local races has a far superior chance of earning you bps consistently and in abundance.
So the answer is easy – breed local breds, right? It is certainly a start. Another suggestion if you are scratchbreeding them was mentioned above – choose the three year old breeding option. Remember two year olds need as much as eight weeks between races early in the year and by December five weeks between starts is generally the minimum you want to work with. But three year olds can really be pushed. At some point you have to decide what you are willing to spend to breed a “cheap” horse. Buying a cheap sire can still cost 100 bps or more plus you have to pay for the backend. One way to economize on the DS and DDS is to look for sires who are no longer active as sires (or for DDS ones that are no longer active as DS). These types tend to fall off the radar and usually offer good value. As with all things in the game a local bred by a middling sire will be more likely to outperform his peers if he has a better foundation than they do. If you are interested in investing small amounts of credits budgeting 200-300 credits to scratchbreed some local bred three year olds is not a bad way to start.
That brings us to sire cards. Sire cards allow you to breed horses for absolutely no cost. The results are unpredictable, especially when you are using the lower level cards. If cheap volume is your strategy this is your venue. Mix and match the cards as you like and create a horse. Unless you luck into an A or B card sire the best way to get your money out of these horses is to enter them directly into maiden claiming races – and if you can find local bred races even better! You can also trade sire cards in to get sire shares which you can breed to a mare or use for scratchbreeding (with purchased DS and DDS shares) at no cost.
There is one thing I have not yet mentioned yet – hemares. In this game an intact male horse can be used to produce one offspring for a nominal fee. The fee is on a sliding scale based on the highest level of achievement of the hemare on the racetrack. Stakes winners cost a mere 200 bps or credits to use to breed (plus of course the sire fee) but the fee jumps to 1000 if the horse has never won a race. Some of the best runners in the game were produced by hemares and they are often available at cut-rate prices in claiming races and at auction.
Hopefully you now have a better idea of how to rule the sim world. It takes time and patience but it wouldn’t be so much fun if it didn’t. One warning I would add is to not overstretch your resources. This means financially yes but also mentally. Running a stable of 100 horses or more requires time and dedication and sometimes comes with very little reward. Keep your numbers manageable while you expand until you have a better sense of how much time and energy (and yes money) you are willing to give to this game on a week by week basis.