Harness Racing - Getting Behind the Sulky

Yes, I know our game is about thoroughbred racing, but for those who want to experience something fun and different and actually get behind a horse, may I suggest you sit in a sulky and get behind a standardbred. They are so much fun to drive and not that difficult.

I've been to several farms out in Coltsneck, NJ, where they train both pacers and trotters. Both are standardbreds - the difference of whether they are a pacer or a trotter depends upon the motion of their legs. Trotters move legs forward and diagonally - the left hind to the right front. The pacers move the two legs on each side simultaneously in a lateral motion. Trotters are a little more difficult to keep on gait and require a little more skill, especially when going high speeds. If you're lucky enough to live near a standardbred training facility, then I suggest going in the early morning and watching these horses jog and train. If you get lucky, you might get one of the caretakers to give you a ride on the sulky and maybe let you take the horse for a spin on your own.

I'm not going to write about all the different aspects of the sport, but I thought I'd highlight some key differences between standardbred racing and thoroughbred racing. Just to get the record straight, I enjoy betting on thoroughbreds a lot more, but from a participation standpoint where I can actually be hands-on, I'm quite intrigued by what harness racing offers. It can be very hands-on.

Drivers are comparable to jockeys, but they do not sit on the horse but behind the horse in what is commonly known as a racing bike (sulky). Though drivers do have a tendency to be smaller and lighter than the average person, your top drivers can weigh in excess of 160 pounds, where your top jockeys can only weigh 110 or thereabouts.

Except for very rare circumstances, 99% of all harness races in the United States are at the distance of one mile. Thoroughbred racing can be anything from a half-mile up to two miles. In addition, thoroughbred racing takes place on multiple surfaces. Harness racing requires a hard surface. Thoroughbred tracks tend to be deep providing a good cushion for the horses.

Horses that participate in harness racing can race as much as five times as many starts per year as a typical thoroughbred. There are numerous reasons why. The standardbred itself is a sturdier breed, whereas the thoroughbred is bred for speed and is more fragile.

The standard bred hits the ground two legs at a time. A thoroughbred hits the ground one leg at a time, creating a much greater opportunity for injuries.

The thoroughbred travels faster - up to 10 miles an hour faster at peak speed.

The thoroughbred carries the direct weight of the jockey or rider on his back, whereas in harness racing the weight is carried behind the horse and dragged.

Standardbreds are less prone to injuries, or at least career-ending ones.

Standardbreds have shorter legs and longer bodies than thoroughbreds.

Harness racing is more of a strategic sport and the horses have a tendency to make multiple moves or bursts during a race, therefore standardbreds have a greater re-acceleration process than traditional thoroughbreds.

Thoroughbreds start from a dead stop and require immediate acceleration, where standardbreds actually start from a moving gate.

There are many other differences between the two types of racing and the two breeds. Like I said before, harness racing is almost more family-involved. The trainer, driver and owner can be the same person. I don't think I've ever seen that in thoroughbred racing. North America harness racing has made a little comeback in recent years because of purse supplementation through jurisdictions that allow slot machines. Facilities that have both racing and casino activities, such as slot machines, have been nicknamed "racinos".

I know a lot of horse owners, both standardbred and thoroughbred. The thoroughbred owners love big crowds and the fact that their sport gets more recognition. The standardbred guys love the hands-on participation and the fact that the horse tends to race more consistently and have less interruptions due to injuries.

One of my favorite times when I was younger was attending thoroughbred racing during the day and harness racing at night.

Obviously our game is all about thoroughbreds. People have asked why don't we create a game for harness racing. And, as sad as it is, the reason is simple. There is just not enough of a market for a standardbred game. Their audience is substantially smaller than thoroughbred racing.

- Stretchrun


Comments Legend

The headings of our comments provide additional information about the user that made the comment. The legend below explains the different colored headings you will find while reading the comments.

  • The Author
  • VIPs
  • Moderators & Staff
  • Others
  • You can join the conversation by creating your free account. It only takes a few seconds.

jordanp145's picture

should make a game about

should make a game about standardbreds

jordanp145's picture

should make a game about

should make a game about standardbreds

sanctify's picture

Re: Harness Racing

Its a real shame there isn't a good harness racing game available.
I for 1 would Love it!

Im sure you would be pleasantly surprised if you designed one for the so-called limited market!

Here's hoping.....


You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.
  • micmac earned 1,000,000 Points playing our game.
  • gerimack earned 500,000 Points playing our game.
  • Maryse IV earned 500,000 Points playing our game.
  • lynchd75 earned 500,000 Points playing our game.
  • gerimack earned 500,000 Points playing our game.
  • allinthegate earned 500,000 Points playing our game.
  • socalfan earned 476,190 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 449,420 Points playing our game.
  • Lear Fan earned 437,580 Points playing our game.
  • blackghost earned 406,692 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 406,692 Points playing our game.
  • abogado earned 406,692 Points playing our game.
  • everwild earned 400,000 Points playing our game.
  • rlparlett earned 375,804 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 366,022 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 350,064 Points playing our game.
  • capitano earned 328,185 Points playing our game.
  • rlparlett earned 327,026 Points playing our game.
  • gerimack earned 291,720 Points playing our game.
  • scorpion56 earned 287,622 Points playing our game.
  • icemanfirst earned 278,850 Points playing our game.
  • gosuper earned 275,418 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 271,128 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 264,092 Points playing our game.
  • sleepers earned 263,835 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 255,684 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 253,645 Points playing our game.
  • rlparlett earned 250,107 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 244,101 Points playing our game.
  • scorpion56 earned 242,084 Points playing our game.
  • allinthegate earned 241,741 Points playing our game.
  • kinglilman earned 223,938 Points playing our game.
  • Brystar earned 221,578 Points playing our game.
  • miheee earned 218,880 Points playing our game.
  • ziggyredlag earned 218,790 Points playing our game.
  • kinglilman earned 217,288 Points playing our game.
  • jaycat earned 216,450 Points playing our game.
  • Flying Circus earned 215,186 Points playing our game.
  • cloud509 earned 215,143 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 213,213 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 212,355 Points playing our game.
  • kinglilman earned 209,137 Points playing our game.
  • sleepers earned 209,137 Points playing our game.
  • allinthegate earned 208,923 Points playing our game.
  • doughboy47 earned 208,708 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 208,065 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 203,346 Points playing our game.
  • tawee57 earned 202,702 Points playing our game.
  • scorpion56 earned 201,736 Points playing our game.
  • icemanfirst earned 201,415 Points playing our game.
  • modgraphix earned 201,415 Points playing our game.
  • saratoga95 earned 200,000 Points playing our game.
  • califokie earned 200,000 Points playing our game.
  • saratoga95 earned 200,000 Points playing our game.
  • califokie earned 200,000 Points playing our game.
  • saratoga95 earned 200,000 Points playing our game.
  • mattaliendi66@gmail.com earned 200,000 Points playing our game.
  • OldFarleyFan earned 200,000 Points playing our game.
  • califokie earned 190,047 Points playing our game.
  • vikinggod28 earned 189,189 Points playing our game.
  • gerimack earned 187,902 Points playing our game.
  • sleepers earned 186,829 Points playing our game.
  • blackcaviar007 earned 185,328 Points playing our game.
  • lynchd75 earned 184,984 Points playing our game.
  • gerimack earned 184,860 Points playing our game.
  • southbronx49 earned 184,860 Points playing our game.
  • icemanfirst earned 182,754 Points playing our game.
  • miheee earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • flyingdaaka earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • dahghee earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • jobby1958 earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • dahghee earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • pack1998 earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • kinglilman earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • dahghee earned 180,000 Points playing our game.
  • nickvegas earned 177,606 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 174,174 Points playing our game.
  • kinglilman earned 172,887 Points playing our game.
  • icemanfirst earned 170,820 Points playing our game.
  • Vicodo earned 170,235 Points playing our game.
  • kinglilman earned 170,000 Points playing our game.
  • modgraphix earned 165,165 Points playing our game.
  • Brystar earned 164,521 Points playing our game.
  • loveagame earned 162,591 Points playing our game.
  • xanadu77 earned 162,162 Points playing our game.
  • micmac earned 159,120 Points playing our game.
  • icemanfirst earned 156,585 Points playing our game.
  • norbert2464 earned 154,440 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 110,564 Points playing our game.
  • frelance earned 108,108 Points playing our game.
  • califokie earned 100,000 Points playing our game.
  • duss860 earned 90,000 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 85,410 Points playing our game.
  • doughboy47 earned 84,922 Points playing our game.
  • frelance earned 50,000 Points playing our game.
  • lynchd75 earned 49,140 Points playing our game.
  • lynchd75 earned 48,648 Points playing our game.
  • harrylan earned 40,996 Points playing our game.
  • shelbyjoe earned 40,762 Points playing our game.
  • ZZrakknar5 earned 40,392 Points playing our game.