Handicapper’s Help Guide for Desktop PC Client Application
This Help section is specifically tied to players who want to extend their game experience and have downloaded our PC-based client application. Our desktop application provides a more in-depth level of play for the true gaming enthusiast. The information below is specifically tied to jockeying and betting for game points. Again, this is an advanced feature and is only recommended for individuals who already have an in-depth understanding of horse racing or who are looking to take their game to the next level and want as much detailed and statistical information as possible.
Players who purchase horse files of past champion horses are also required to install the desktop application.
We also suggest that at any time you have questions, jump into the forum, look for the topics associated with handicapping in either the Betting Game, Jockey Game or Trainer Game, read and ask questions. People love to help.
So, what drives this game? What's the secret? How do I master it? We'll get to those answers and many more as we proceed. Patience and practice - and you will succeed. By now, you understand that there are two modes to the desktop application of our game. Our purpose here is to get you to understand how to be a better player in both modes as well as in the jockey and betting tournaments themselves. We built our game to parallel, as best we can, the real world of horse racing. Horse racing is a $70 to $100 billion worldwide industry with many aspects of participation. Our focus here is betting, jockeying (riding the horses) and training. With the download client of our game, you actually have the ability to participate in any one or all three of these aspects of horse racing. The common element between betting, jockeying and training is one simple word - WIN! Whatever aspect of our game you're playing - jockey, bettor, trainer - have fun and win!
Your first experience
Below you will find some detailed information for both our Betting Game and Jockey Game. Believe me, this is just a start. This game can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. We're not here to overwhelm you and we want you to take baby steps. So, as you begin your journey through our fun and exciting game, we want you to know there is a simple, first-step solution to get you into the action right away without worrying about all the detailed information below. Whether you're betting or jockeying races and you want to get in on the action ASAP and still be able to play with some level of confidence, we have provided what we call our Tip or Advice Screen. This screen is a simple summary of each horse, his odds, his chances of winning and his preferred running style in order to maximize his potential for winning. This screen is automatically displayed prior to riding or betting in any race during game play. In order to access this information when landing on the Field of Horses page (as it is identified), click on the Display Option radio button on the right entitled Horse Traits. Here you will see the horse's name, their odds, their overall speed ability, their stamina, their preferred running style, whether or not they like the track, and a brief handicapping comment generated from the computer on their potential to win. For the beginner and/or those who want to keep the game simple, this may be all you ever need or want to truly enjoy this game.
The Betting Game
So, let's start out with the bettor mode (handicapping), otherwise known as the spectator. This is the heart and soul of horse racing. It's the money they play with that drives the sport forward. To understand how to be a handicapper in our game, first let's get an understanding of what handicapping/betting is and how it affects horse racing. You'll learn more about that as we move on. Keep one thing in mind. Unlike football or baseball, where the actual athletes are competing against each other, in horse racing, the spectators/bettors are the ones competing against each other just as much as the jockeys and trainers, and that's what makes horse racing so exciting. The fan is actually in the game and his opinion (or decision) resulting in his bet plays a factor and affects the results. You can scream all you want to at a football game, yell all you want at a baseball game, but I doubt you will have an effect on the outcome. You see, horse racing is driven by betting, unlike casino games (slot machines, roulette wheels, etc. where you're playing against the casino that always wins - gee, no wonder those casinos are so big and beautiful - it's your money building them). In horse racing, you're betting against the other players. The money is pooled together, thus the term "pari-mutuel" and paid back out to the winners or the handicappers who correctly pick the right horses. Another piece is paid out to the jockeys and trainers of the winning horses. So, as you can see, you are absolutely part of the game.
Take a look at the pie chart below. The circle represents all the money bet on a particular race. Let's call it $1 million. That million dollars comes from all the thousands of players backing their opinions with hard cash. Out of that $1 million pool, approximately 80% (this fluctuates depending upon the type of bet and racetrack) is paid back to the winning wagers and the other 20% is divvied up among the owner of the horse, the jockey, the trainer, the racetrack operator and other industry organizations, like retirement funds, medical funds, improvements for racing, marketing dollars, etc. So, as you can see, without the fan participating, horse racing doesn't survive. This is why we say horse racing is the only sport where the fan directly affects the outcome and has a major decision in that outcome.
Because our Betting Game parallels the real world of horse racing, the better you become at it, the greater the opportunity for you to succeed in the real world of horse racing and horse race betting. Let me clear up a myth before we proceed any further. "You cannot win playing the horses." This statement is the farthest from the truth as possible. Three percent (3%) to four percent (4%) of horse players make money playing the horses each year. Although the percentage is not substantial, the amount of money they make can be incredible. We actually know several people who makes millions of dollars a year playing the horses. It's not from inside information or jockey tips or fixed races - it's simply because they have mastered the art of understanding the game and translating the data that's available. The beautiful part of our game is that as you enjoy yourself, play with your friends, compete in tournaments and risk no money, you're actually learning more and more about the real world of horse racing and could find yourself with a competitive edge. You may never become a professional gambler, but mastering our game will certainly make going to the racetrack, whether its once a year or once a week, so much more enjoyable and help to give you a winning edge.
There are a lot of factors involved in handicapping races. We're going to try to translate the key factors for you. Think of this as a puzzle. The more past performance lines there are, the more puzzle pieces you have, making it easier to solve. Basic factors for handicapping are:
1. 1. The horse, its true ability and its current racing condition (or form)
2. 2. The horses he is racing against and their true abilities (or form)
3. 3. The race condition (meaning distance and what surface the race will occur on)
4. 4. The race setup or trip factor
5. 5. Value proposition
These are five key factors that can help you become a better player when playing the game in the handicapping or betting mode. Again, these factors parallel what real bettors look for in the real world of horse racing. Horse racing is a very opinionated sport. My key components will differ from others. As you master the game, you will end up with your own opinions of what makes sense and what doesn't. That's one of the beauties of this game. Now, let's look at each factor addressed above and touch in more detail what they mean and how to interpret the data. Remember, as you play our game, each horse builds a past performance history (or race history). That is a summary review of how a particular horse performans under certain conditions. Reviewing past performance history on the same horse for multiple races allows you to create a picture of what that horse's true potential is and where his area of expertise lies. This of this as a puzzle. The more information you have to review through the past performance history, the better opportunity for the pieces of the puzzle to come together and be solved.
1. The horse, its general ability and its current racing condition (or form)
Each horse in our game has a general preprogrammed ability, which we call attributes. The ability of that horse is focused on several factors. Does he prefer shorter distances or longer? Does he prefer to race on the dirt or the turf? Does he like a dry track, wet track or sloppy track? Is he a front-runner or does he like to come from behind? What class value does he have? In other words, can he race against horses of top caliber or does he need to race against horses of much lower caliber or somewhere in between? The final factor is what his current racing condition (or form) is at present? In other words, he might have been a spectacular 3-year-old, but as a 4-year-old, he's not as good. So, how do we determine these factors in the game to get a competitive edge? This is where the past performance line and racing charts come into play. Here is a screen shot of the past performance line on a particular horse. All of the things I just discussed above in reference to #1 are simply identified in a numeric format on a horse's past performance line. Each line represents a race and each race represents a piece of what we call the puzzle of figuring out what a horse's true ability it. The more past performance lines, the more puzzle pieces, the easier to solve. Remember, this is the past performance on one horse. Each race has numerous horses. So, it's important to evaluate each horse's ability before determining which horse you're interested in betting on in the betting mode of our game.
* 1A - The first factor we want to look at is if the horse prefers a shorter or longer distance or something in-between? This is determined by evaluating under the identification DIST what distances the horse has raced at previously. Distance is measured in furlongs. A furlong is a representation of one-eighth of a mile. Short distances can be considered 7 furlongs (or 7F) and less as they appear under that heading. Horses that run effectively or finish well at that distance can be identified as sprinters. There are sprinters, mid-distance and long-distance runners. Mid-distance horses are identified as horses with the most effective distances as 7-1/2F to 1-1/16th. Horses that are effective at over 1-1/16th are considered long-distance runners. Horses that are more effective at longer distances, such as the race dated on Nov. 15 (from screen shot), which was 1-1/2 miles, is definitely considered a route race (a long distance). When reviewing the distances, any distance beyond a mile is no longer identified with the letter "F" following the distance, but is identified with the number "1" and then a fractional number indicating the correct distance. For example - 1-1/4 means the race was at a mile and one-quarter. The following fractions are used in races over a mile 16th, 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4. Going back to the past performance chart on this particular horse (TalwaysWins), now let's determine where his distance advantages are. This particular horse is unique, but not necessarily that uncommon. What we'll find when looking at his past performance charts is that he's effective, or shows he can be effective, in mid-distance races. The first indication of that was his Jan. 11th race where he easily won going the distance of 1-1/16th in the Holy Bull Stakes. He does not appear to be effective going long distances, and we can come to that conclusion by looking at his Nov. 15th race at 1-1/2 distance, where he finished 10th and lost by 10 lengths. Another indication would be the Nov. 15th race at 1-1/4 distance, losing by 7 lengths. Determining a horse's preferred distance is not always easy. As you play the game, other factors will help you to identify a horse's true preferred distance.
* 1B - Does he prefer turf or dirt -dry or wet surface? In this particular example, it's difficult to determine if this horse has any preference toward the turf racing surface because he has had no races under those conditions. Horses racing on the turf would be identified in several ways. First, the letter "T" would follow after the distance. Second, you would also be able to tell by looking in the right-hand corner of the horse's past performance line. It actually displays each type of surface the horse has stated on and how many first, seconds or thirds he's had under those track surface conditions. The third indicator would be after the date, all the way to the left of the past performance line following the track abbreviation would be the surface condition. Turf conditions could be recognized by abbreviations such as "SFT", meaning soft turf; "FM" meaning firm turf; "YLD" meaning yielding turf (slowing track but not as soft as SFT); and "GD" for good turf (which is wetter than firm turf but not as wet as a yielding course). Dirt track conditions can be identified with the following terminology: "FST" for fast track (indicating a very dry, kind of hard surface for fast race action; "GD" for the good track (which is not as hard as fast ad has some level of moisture in it); "MDY" for a muddy track (starting to get loose composition-wise, very moist and normally sealed or compacted); "SLY" for a sloppy track (which is like running in a bog or flood, the wettest track you can get).
* 1C - Is he front runner or does he like to come from behind? There are generally three running styles that horses normally have - front runners (horses that want to be on the front or near the front), stalkers and mid-pack horses (horses that tend to get comfortable racing behind other horses but still want to be close to the action and never to far behind), and closers (horses that have a tendency to come from way off the pace and finish fastest of all making for exciting finishes, but sometimes heart-breaking scenarios). Understanding a horse's running style is one thing, but what is more important is how his running style matches up with the rest of the horses in the race, but we'll talk about that a little later. To determine the running style of a horse, simply look at the past performance line and check to see at any port of call what position the horse had throughout the race. The key factor is to not only look at what position he has during the race, but where did he finish. If you see a horse whose running style was in front on a particular race, but he finished behind, that could be an indication that that is not the horse's preferred running style. But, there a lot of other factors to consider before making that assumption. As you get more involved with the game, you'll learn how to truly understand and recognize a horse's running style. Looking at TAlwaysWins, going back to that Jan. 11th race (the Holy Bull Stakes), which is the representation of his ONLY win in his past peformance chart, it would appear that he prefers to run near or on the lead. Please pay attention to our blogs and forums to learn how to evaluate this information. Let's take a quick moment to understand the past performance numbers identified between the Race Name and the weight carried. Those 5 to 7 numbers are a numeric interpretation of the horse's position throughout that particular race. The first number, which falls under the letters "PP" (post position), represents where he started or what gate position he had at the start of the race. The next set of 3 to 4 numbers is a determination of where that horse was positioned in comparison to the rest of the field at particular points during the race, helping you to paint a picture of the horse's trip throughout the race. The number under "FIN" represents where the horse finished, his final position as he crossed the finish line followed by another number, which represents either the distance between him and the horse behind him (if he won the race) or the distance between him and the horse in front of him (if he was in any other position other than the winning place).
* 1D - What class value does he have? Like in any sport, there are different levels or caliber of athletes. Match me up one-on-one with my 12-year-old son in basketball and I'm going to beat him. Match me up against a top high school athlete, and he's going to beat me. Match him up against Lebron James and Lebron will destroy him. The same goes for horse racing. One of the most important factors when evaluating a race is determining the horse's class and what caliber of horses he can race against. The other factor in determining class is what is the horse's current condition. A great horse of last year may only be a mediocre horse this year. So, how do we determine class? The simplest place to begin would be to get an understanding of the speed rating figures in the past performance line under the abbreviation "SR". Speed rating figures can be as low as 30 and as high as 130. Speed rating is a determination of how a particular horse performed and then compared against what the best horses would be expected to do on that particular track at that particular distance on that particular day. The bottom line is, the higher the speed rating number, the higher class of horses under these racing conditions you can expect a specific horse to compete effectively against. Speed rating numbers can vary dramatically on any horse on different days. For example, looking at TAlwaysWins' most recent race, he ran a modest, unimpressive speed rating of 69. But, go back to his Jan. 11th win in the Holy Bull Stakes, and his speed rating was a more acceptable 88. Why the variations? Because horses aren't machines. Besides the fact that on any given day an animal, just like a human, is going to have a variation in his performance ability, there are other key factors to look for. First (and in no particular order) is the distance of the race. If the horse is a sprinter, you cannot expect good speed ratings at long distance. Plain and simple, he's going to get tired. If the horse only likes the dirt, then racing on the turf is probably not going to prouce high speed figures. Then there's the trip factor. If the horse is a closer and he's depending on the front horses to go fast early on and they don't, his speed rating will be less than expected. And, vice versa if he's a front runner with too much competition early in the race, you can expect him to get tired and slow down, thus a lower speed rating. Again, you'll learn more about this as you read the forums, the blogs and practice. One other factor that we have to understand to determine class is the horse's form cycle. This is crucial. Because our horses are obviously computer-generated, part of the initial attributes built into each horse is where and when in the horse's life (or racing career) his racing form peaks and at his preferred distances provides the highest speed rating figures. To determine this, you have to be able to read through the lines on the past performance chart. Just like in real racing, certain horses peak as 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, some 4-year-olds, etc. The factors for this determination are their ability to mature physically and mentally and injuries. So, let's take a look at TAlwaysWins. It is very easy for us to quickly determine his peak age for maximum performance and looking for races that fit that peak age will be a key factor in determining whether or not he's a top contender in a race. His Jan. 11th win in the Holy Bull Stakes was for 3-year-olds only. You can determine the age classification by looking under the Age line on the past performance chart and see what age the horse was when that race occurred. TAlwaysWins was a 3-year-old, and the race was restricted to 3-year-olds, as well. Notice that his speed rating was an 88 for that race. The race occurred on Jan. 11th of his 3-year-old racing career. The date on the left determines the actual month in which the race occurred. If we now look at TAlwaysWins' race on June 15th, which was also restricted to 3-year-olds, you will notice that he had a speed rating of 86, his second-best speed rating for the 11 races he has run to date. Clearly, TAlwaysWins peak cycle, from what we can determine, is during his 3-year-old racing career. That particular June race where he had a speed rating of 86 was not at his preferred distance, but the horse still raced fairly competitively. So, how do we determine a horse's age inside the game for a particular race? This is simple. Under the Age category, if there's a single number, then the age was restricted to that age group only. If it's followed by the word "Up", that means the race was restricted to horses of that age and older. To find out how old the horse was in that particular race, simply look for the horse's age in the past performance line. It will be a single number between 2 and 6. Also, for your convenience, all the horses have their races put in chronological order, not by the order you necessarily raced them, but by the order of the age the horse was when the race occurred. So, it's actually possible to run horses either intentionally or when the computer sets up a race back and forth in time. So, if your horse ran his most recent race as a 4-year-old, but the next time he runs in the game, he's a 3-year-old, that race will show up below the 4-year-old performance. This is done intentionally to help you identify what age a horse might be when best suited for particular races. Also, you can click on any past performance line of any horse at any time for more details on that race including the other contenders and how the race set up, helping you evaluate in more detail how today's race might play out. Peak cycles for a horse could last a year or longer or several months, just like in real racing. This is where the date comes into play. If we go back to TAlwaysWins's race date of Jan. 11th as a 3-year-old, we can determine that he was in his peak cycle form as early as January of his 3-year-old year and was still in that form on the June 15th race, meaning his peak cycle is at least 6 months. The more past performance lines that you build for a horse on various distances and race surfaces, the easier it becomes to figure out his peak performance age and what expectations you can have for his speed rating.
* 1E - Another line item you will notice on the past performance lines of a horse is the letter C or P. This will indicate that that particular race was run in either Community or Private mode. This is important to know because horses run in community mode were probably placed against very competitive horses, but horses run in private mode, where the player has control, might have intentionally been set up in a race with horses that might not have been so competitive. So, be careful when trying to evaluate a horse's ability and pay attention to whether a race was run in community or private mode.
2. The horses he's racing against and their current ability (or form)
This is like a scientific experiment so you want to get as much information as possible. So, you gather information like you did for TAlwaysWins. When you're done, you analyze your results and come up with your selections. This is something you get better at with practice. That's why it's so important to practice while you gain knowledge and experience. In addition, practice allows you to continue to add past performance lines to each horse, giving you more information to analyze. In other words, this gives you more pieces of the puzzle and allows you to solve it more successfully.
3. The race condition
Before you begin analyzing the horses in any particular horses, my first rule of thumb is to get my arms around today's racing conditions. What is the distance? What are the age parameters? Who is the race open or restricted to? What is the track surface? All of these factors allow me to start putting the puzzle together as I analyze each horse individually through the processes identified above. You can have a horse that just won three races and today, he'll have absolutely no shot (I think) because the condition of the race does not fit that particular horse.
4. The race setup or trip factor
This is one of the most crucial components of handicapping a race, particularly when you're playing the Betting Game and/or the Jockey Game. In more times than most, the best horse does not win. One of my favorite aspects of horse race handicapping is trying to figure out the trip or pace scenario. Picturing how fast the race will go and where the key horses will be is an absolute determination of which horse(s) will have the best shot during the final stretch run. It's easy to identify contenders, but eliminating normal contenders because the trip or race setup doesn't appear to be in their favor is what creates the difference between a good handicapper and a novice handicapper - and, the same goes for our game. Let's take an example. If a race has 8 horses and 7 of those 8 horses are absolute speed demons (want to be near or on the front - in fact several of them have to be on the front and their past performance lines indicate that), then you can probably bet that one of the other two horses (the closers or non-front runners) are going to be in a great position when those front runners have tired themselves out battling for the lead. Although this sounds easy to figure out trip and pace scenarios, especially under the circumstance just created, the truth is that the jockeys on all those horses also realize and have an idea of how that pace may play out and may adjust style to give their horse a better chance. What I'm trying to say is that there are two aspects to pace handicapping, or at least in my mind. The first is identified by the numbers in the past performance line. The second is trying to determine what the jockeys of the other horses might be thinking to try to better their chances. In our game, the computer represents the jockeys of those other horses. The computer is going to make adjustments to try to give each horse a fair chance and act in a way that a smart jockey/trainer would. Your job is to out-think that strategy. The more races you run, the better you get at analyzing and predicting pace scenarios. This is probably one of the funnest elements of the game. Pay attention to the blogs and the forums to learn more about the race setup and trip factors.
Below is a sample results chart. Clicking on any past performance line will bring up a detailed results chart of the particular race that horse participated in. The Results Chart includes all the contenders, their age, their weight, their starting post position, the actual betting odds, their positions at various points in the race, their final position, and the distance separating them from the horse in front of them or them and the horse behind them. We also include estimated ground loss, which is just a summary of how much ground the horse lost during the race from being bumped by other horses, going wide around turns, or being blocked. Also included is the horse's speed rating and an ending energy comment line, which can be used as a determination of what that particular horse had left as far as energy goes when crossing the finish line. Ending energy can be deceiving and not a true determination of what occurred in the race. One simple example is that even though a horse may have good energy yet finished near the back of the pack does not necessarily mean that he was a good contender for this race. Sometimes having good energy left and finishing near the back of the pack can be a determination that the distance of the race is wrong for this particular horse or a slew of other factors. There will be plenty of information in the blogs and forums on how to evaluate the Results Chart in more detail.
5. Value Proposition
Now that you understand the race, the contenders and the probably running style or setup of the race, it's time to make your wager. The key to becoming a successful bettor/handicapper is looking for value propositions. Remember what we said in the very beginning. Horse racing is a sport unlike any other because it's your dollar against everyone else's dollar. Anyone can pick favorites. The key, after doing all your handicapping and race evaluation, is from a betting standpoint to look for the horse with the best possible chance at the highest possible odds. Please also remember, when playing our game, the betting pools are pre-determined and any bets you make inside the betting game can directly affect the payout or return, just like in real racing.
Time to Make Some Money (Placing Your Bet)
We have identified the horse(s) we want to play, have done all of our evaluations, and now it's time to make your bets. Below is a simple overview on how to make your bets and what those bets mean.
Each player starts with a specific amount of money as identified in the screen shot here. Our game accepts three standard bets - win, place and show, and an exotic bet known as an exacta. Win betting simply means the horse you're wagering on must finish first. Place betting means your horse can come in either first or second. Show betting means your horse can be first, second or third for your bet to win. Each bet sits in their own pool and is separate from the other pools. Typically, the win pool for straight bets is where most of the money resides. To determine what your payoff would be, multiply the odds of the horse (e.g., 2:1) by the amount you wager and add back in your original bet. As an example - if I bet $10 to win on a 2:1 shot and my horse finishes first, my payout would be $10 (my amount) x 2 (odds of 2:1) + $10 (my original bet) = $30, or a profit of $20. Place and show betting work the same way. The difference is, place and show bets usually pay significantly lower prices because multiple horses are sharing in the payoff pool. When a horse wins, there is only one winner in the race, so the win pool is paid out to only the tickets who picked the correct winner. In the place pool, two hroses are paid off - the horse coming in first and the horse coming in second. Therefore, the pool is divided between two horses and the payouts are lower. The same for the show pool, which involves a three-horse payout. Deciding what type of bet to make is part of your money management strategies and will be further addressed in the forums and blogs.
- This is where players get a good opportunity to make some real money. Exotic wagers involve bets with multiple horses. In the real world of horse racing, there are many different exotic bets, such as picking the winners of four races in a row, known as a Pick-4. Or, correctly picking the first three finishers in a race, known as a trifecta. Or, picking the winner of two races in a row, known as a double. In our game, we focus on one exotic bet known as the exacta. The exacta is where a person picks the winner (or first place horse) and the second place horse correctly. Obviously, in an exacta bet it can pay substantially more than just picking the winner alone. If, after evaluating a race, certain horses stand out, in your opinion, beyond other horses in the race, then exacta wagering may be the right play to make. Other reasons for exacta wagering could simply be that you're absolutely adamant about who the winner will be but he's a very big favorite (short-priced horse), and in your opinion the second spot (or place position) could be wide open for a possible long-shot horse. Just as in real horse racing, in our game the key is to risk the least amount of money and get the maximum return for each dollar bet. A good handicapper looks to maximize his betting opportunities with the best payoffs possible. When playing in our game, particularly in tournaments, just as in real racing tournaments, you have to try to win as much money as you can with the amount allocated. Exotic wagers are a key element in accomplishing that. See blogs and forums for tips of how to maximize betting strategies and increase your ROI (return of investment). One last note - remember that the dollars you wager on a horse, if substantial enough, can and will affect the horse's payout if he wins. Learning and understanding the pari-mutuel betting system inside our game is crucial when competing against other players. Don't bet against yourself.
Turning Bets Into Game Points
-If you are playing the game in community mode and making wagers on horses, each successful wager will convert to community points. That conversion to community points is not based upon how much money you make on a per-bet basis, but on the ROI of the bet. For example, a bet of $1 returning $3 is an ROI of 200%, which would convert into so many community points. We give players an unlimited amount of money to bet with, and you can fund your betting account any time you want. Only profitable bets (again, bets with positive ROIs in community mode) will earn you community points. To get a complete understanding of the conversion of profitable bets to community points, see the chart below:
The maximum amount of community points you can earn is 500 no matter how much your ROI is, so keep that in mind when playing the game to earning community points.
Betting in Tournaments - Betting in tournaments works the same way as playing in community mode. Once you enter a tournament (please see the full tutorial on tournaments or read the Tournament Entry Guide in the Help section) and the tournament begins, all races you run in community mode that consist of bets will count toward your tournament play. During tournament play you can fund your betting account with as much money as you want (this will not affect your tournament score). The only factor affecting your tournament score will be the ending average or ROI that you have on all the bets you make from all the races during your tournament play. After you run a race in community mode and you're brought to the results page, click on Details and then Player Stats. Here you will have the ability to see what your ROI was for that particular race.
The Jockey Game
In real horse racing, jockeys have limited say on what horses they ride. They are constantly competing with each other for the best possible mount (horse) to ride in a particular race. There are a lot of factors in determining which horse a jockey rides and why. I've seen many times where a jockey has a choice to ride more than one horse in a race and the one he chooses, in my opinion and sometimes in the opinion of the rest of the fans, was not the right horse. Why does this happen? Horse racing is a very complicated game. For the jockey, his business is built upon relationships - relationships with trainers and with owners. Sometimes jockeys have to sacrifice to maintain those relationships. A jockey's income is totally dependent upon not only his skill as a jockey but also the quality of the horses he's riding and their chances in those races. The beautiful thing about our game, when playing the jockey mode, is that you get to choose the horse you want to ride. What this means is that you have an advantage over the typical jockey, whose strategy before the horses are even drawn into the race is dependent upon a lot of other factors.
Now, you're ready to be the jockey and to compete against other players. Whether in the Private Mode of the game, playing by yourself and riding champion horses of the past, or in the Community Mode where your scores are public and seen by thousands of other players, or in tournaments where you're playing for prizes and/or cash, you better pay attention and do your homework before picking the horse you want to ride. A good jockey must have two traits. One, you must be a good handicapper. Two, you have to be a good rider. We're going to touch base on both of these traits now.
1. The handicapping aspect
When choosing a horse to ride in the race, look at the race the same way as you would if you were going to bet it. First, review the race conditions, then review each horse, as we discussed above in the Handicapping Mode, and look for the key contenders. After that, evaluate the potential pace scenarios and what horse you believe has the best shot based on all these factors. The difference here is that even though you are not betting the horse in our jockey game, it is still best to look for the horse with the best possible chance to win at the highest value proposition. Here's the reason why. Remember what we said, in real horse racing the jockeys don't have much of a choice of which horse they ride. Here, we do. So, when you're playing aganst other players, particularly in tournaments, a lot of your competitor jockeys are going to be picking the favorites. If you've done your job handicapping, you might be able to determine a couple of other key contenders a fairly high valued odds. Why is this important? Because in our jockey game, it's not the price the horse pays if he wins that matters to the player, but it's the number of points he earns. Those points are determined by the betting odds of the horse. The lower odds of the horse, the less points the jockey receives when he wins, and vice versa. This is crucial because a lot of times after handicapping a race, you may find a 20, maybe even a 50:1 shot that has a good chance of running a good race and the number of points you would earn as a jockey finishing second, third and even fourth on that 50:1 shot far exceeds the number of points you would earn on riding the even-money favorite, even if he wins. Here is a screen shot of the jockey points chart, showing on average the number of points a player earns based on the final position of the horse he jockeys in the race based on the horse's final odds.
It's important to understand that the jockey points serve two purposes. One is for statistical purposes, which are your bragging rights in the game, or a determining factor on where you finish in jockey tournaments. The other is that every time you run a race in community mode, even during a tournament, those jockey points are converting to community points, which is the currency in our game and help you win prizes, discount items in the store or even get free items as well as enter more tournaments. From a statistical standpoint, the more points you earn per ride/race, the better chance you have of winning a particular tournament. Statistical jockey points convert on a point-to-point basis into community points up to 500. After 500 points, you'll still receive the statistical credit and also the credit if you're playing in a tournament, but your conversion to community points is maxed out at 500 per race.
To find out how many points you've earned in a race for statistical purposes, after you jockey a race and go to the Results page, click on Details and then Player Stats. If your horse finished in the top 4 positions, you will see the exact number of points you've earned for statistical purposes. Again, for community point purposes, it is a 1-to-1 conversion maxed out at 500 per race.
Personally, when I play in tournaments, I never ride the favorites, especially when they're less than even money. Remember, in our jockey game, particularly the tournaments, it's not how many races you win, it's how many points you earn during the tournament. So, I cannot emphasize enough - analyze the race before you choose the horse to ride and look for the hidden value at the best odds.
2. The ride itself
One of the most entertaining parts of going to the races is watch bettors complain about the ride a jockey gave after the horse they bet lost. Sometimes there is merit in their dissatisfaction, but a lot of times, the fan (with no disrespect to him) doesn't understand what really happened during a race. What I'm about to tell you right now, you can take with a grain of salt, but mark my words, play our game and be the jockey in hundreds or even thousands of races and you will not only be a better handicapper in real live horse racing, but you'll have a lot more respect for what the jockeys do and what they do during a race. The key to riding is practice, just like real jockeys, followed by patience. The best jockeys are very analytical and patient. They have the ability to look around during the race, know what's going on, know where the key contenders are, know how the pace is setting up, and know what modifications in their imitial strategy have to be made, if any. I've interviewed dozens of jockeys, and what I've learned is that the best riders analyze the races, just like the bettors. But, they are also prepared to throw right out the window once the gate opens the original strategy they have in mind - and that is crucial. What I'm saying is, do your homework, just like you would in the handicapping mode. Practice just like you would in the handicapping mode. Learn the potential running strategy of the other horses. Understand who your key competition is and how your racing or riding style can enhance or hurt their ability to win. What I really enjoy getting emails from players telling me that the more they play the game, the more they learn and understand how realistic the game is. We have spent years building a engine behind the game. What I'm telling you is that the programming is built upon the real logic of how horses would act. Let me give you an example. First-time players as jockeys have a tendency to speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down, like an accelerator on your car. In real horse racing, speeding up and slowing down a horse in a race will virtually eliminate all chances of winning. Just like the law of physics, and our game operates on the same theory, motion is motion, momentum is momentum. As you learn to play, you will learn to adapt to the same factors used by real jockeys. An average horse has one move or one burst of speed. A good horse to a very good horse may have two. The occasional miracle horses could have three. Patience and placement play key roles in being a good jockey. Other factors to consider are taking your horse wide or off the rail too far around the turns will cause him to lose considerable ground. That ground represents distance, which will play a key factor in where he finishes. The opposite scenario is keeping your horse on the rail and not being able to get racing room, even though your horse is full of energy through the stretch and you're stuck and lose. Below you will find a complete list of riding tips and how to maximize your ability in riding in the game. Again, keep in mind that practicing in the game, paying attention especially to the jockey blogs and asking questions in the forums will make you a better rider.
Once you choose your horse, confirm and hit Run Race, a new screen will appear. That screen is our keyboard hints page. Here is a detailed explanation of keyboard functionality for jockey control and playing our Game. A keyboard hint screen will also appear when playing our Betting or Spectator Game. Different keyboard functions are available for various modes of our Game. Please pay close attention to the keyboard hints page before clicking on the Continue button. Once you're comfortable with the keyboard navigation, simply hit Continue and the race will begin. The camera will slowly zoom in on the actual race and will start immediately within a 1 to 3-second count. The highlighted horse is the horse you control. We suggest that at the start of the race you immediately adjust to a camera view that is most comfortable for you. You can utilize your keypad numbers 1 through 9 for nine different camera angles of your horse. Hint: Camera angles 3 and 4 are direct jockey angles. We also suggest that before riding in a race, that you run several races as a spectator and get comfortable with the various camera views that are available. In our Spectator or Betting Game, camera angles are always based on the lead horse but can be changed when following the instructions on the keyboard hints page. In the Jockey Game, they are always based on your horse. During the race in non-jockey mode, our Game allows the player (by hitting F8) to change the main focus horse. Simply enter the horse's number, hit Continue and then use your 9 camera angles as you would normally (keys 1 through 9). This feature is important for players in spectator or betting game mode. By holding the left mouse button down on camera angles 3 and 5, you can further adjust the camera angle view.
In jockey mode, you can control your horse by using the arrow keys or using the control panel on the left screen with your mouse by clicking on the designated arrows.
You can also control camera angles by using your mouse on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. A camera control pad will slide up when moused over, which will allow you to change to different camera angles rather than using the numbers on your keypad.
Increasing and decreasing the horse's speed is indicated by a green or red arrow either in front of or behind the horse. When using your keypad, under most camera views, the up-down arrow speeds up or slows down your horse and the right-left keys steer your horse in and out. Please Note: Several camera angles work differently. When controlling the horse with your mouse with the arrows on the screen, the green arrow will increase and the red arrow will decrease speed.
Some players prefer controlling a horse from the keypad; some with the mouse on the screen. After running several races, you will decide which is more comfortable for you.
Our jockey game utilizes very realistic attributes and will only allow the horses to perform within their true ability. Trying to get horses to perform outside of their ability, such as going too fast too early or staying too far back when that horse has a tendency to be close to the pack, will dramatically affect that horse's chance of performing well.
Monitor the energy and effort bars on the left of the screen to maximize your horse's performance. No horse should be exerting full effort until the stretch drive unless you're looking for a quick burst of speed to move into a better position or the race is an all-out sprint.
Speeding up and slowing down a horse too quickly will waste energy and hinder performance just like in real racing.
Try to keep your horse positioned during the race with the most ground-saving trip. Going wide on turns will cause you to lose ground and will dramatically affect your outcome.
Try not to get blocked during the race. Getting your horse blocked can cause the horse to lose valuable ground and positioning and will affect your results.
Running up on horses from behind can force your horse to slow down dramatically and waste energy in rebuilding momentum.
Play the game with a general strategy in mind just like real jockeys. Even though strategies change during the race, understanding the potential and running style of the other horses will allow you to make more precise decisions during the game.
Just like real racing, making hasty decisions such as slowing the horse down too quickly or speeding him up too quickly will dramatically affect your horse's outcome.
The larger the field in the race, the more likely it is that certain horses' running styles will overlap. For example, if your horse likes to be near the front, expect other horses to favor that running style. If this occurs, you have to make quick decisions and adjustments in strategy to ensure the best possible outcome.
The clock that is displayed during the race is a significant factor in determining if and how you need to adjust your riding style during the race. Understanding fractional times for the class of horse you're riding and the distance of the race is very important. As you play our Jockey Game, you will become more familiar with the times that are acceptable for races you are in, the class of horse you're riding in and the distance. Not only will this make you a better jockey in our game, but a much better handicapper in real life.
Expect it to take five to ten races before you get comfortable. Running the same race over and over again can help you quickly increase your skill level as a jockey player and show you how different approaches for the same race will force the computer to adjust the riding of the other horses in the race.
In some instances, the displayed or identified running styles of the horses may be totally ineffective in the particular race in which your horse is participating. Watching the energy bar during the race can be a good indication of how comfortable that horse is in the position he has during the race. A quick drop in energy early in the race indicates too much effort being exerted too soon, which will more than likely lead to a poor performance. Just the opposite, a slow-dropping energy bar will probably indicate a horse that is not being used enough and will probably not show a maximum effort and will therefore under-perform. Hint: As the jockey, it is best to try to finish each race just as your energy level is expiring. Finishing with negative energy (an energy bar that is zero with the race still in progress) or finishing with too much energy is an indication that the horse was not ridden correctly. Another hint: In some cases, it's desirable to finish with some energy, as when you're the jockey in our Trainer Game. Finishing the race with a good result and with energy still available can indicate a quicker returning horse for its next performance. Again, the consideration of this depends on the game you're playing and what you're trying to accomplish.
Don't expect to go way out in front (and steal the race) or stay way behind and save all your energy. Unless your horse has an absolute style for this type of performance, dramatic adjustments in running style will hinder that horse's results. Please Note: Game utilizes all real horse attributes. The horses in the designated race will only perform, with a slight variation (depending on control settings), within the parameters identified by their current racing form. This is critical information.
Keeping your horse on the rail during the race will definitely conserve energy, but as in real racing, you risk being blocked or boxed in, which will force you to lose ground and hinder your potential outcome.
Bumping into horses will force your horse to lose ground and hinder his final position.
Horses in our game will never fall or get into accidents, but poor jockey skills will penalize your horse, affect his energy level, effort level and, therefore, his final position at the end of the race. (Horses in our Training game are prone to injury based on several factors. The trainer will be notified when an injury happens.)
When trying to block the horse behind you by moving in and out will waste your horse's energy effort and cost him considerable ground. Also, moving your horse wide to intentionally carry a horse coming up wide behind you through a turn will force your horse to lose valuable ground and travel an extra distance, affecting its final position.
If your horse is a front runner, you are able to get to the front easily. Slowing your horse down can, in some cases, conserve energy, but slowing your horse down too much will quickly bring the other horses upon you and your horse may waste more energy trying to regain momentum. In addition, while trying to regain that momentum, the other horses that were coming from behind, having greater momentum and speed abilities, may be able to easily pass your horse.
Do not ride your horse like you drive your car. The best way to conserve energy and effort is to ride the horse conservatively and with a strategy in mind.
Sometimes during the race, you may be trying to shift your horse in or out and the horse doesn't appear to be responding. This can be due to several factors: a) your horse is tired and slow to respond; b) he's coming off a turn and it's hard to navigate; c) you're too close to the horse in front of you and can't shift positions; and d) there's a horse behind you, either on the inside or outside, preventing him from moving.
Horses that get tired during the race have a tendency to shift in or out on their own.
It's best while playing the game as the jockey to use a variation of camera angles to not only determine your exact position, but also the positions of the competitive horses with which you are most concerned.
After being a jockey and to improve your skill set, you might want to save the races you ride for replay so you can critique your own riding ability. Reviewing your own races after the fact will help you understand the opportunities that might have been missed during the race.
You may want to practice riding in your Private Mode before riding in the Community Mode. That's your decision and part of the enjoyment of the game. One other final note is that if you are really proud of some of the horses you have ridden, you can not only save the races (as mentioned above), you can also share them with the Community for everyone's enjoyment. Have fun, good luck … go racing!
The desktop client can also help you evaluate your trainer game horses (the horses you bred to race against other players). We have an entire help section specifically focused on this subject. The desktop client takes managing your stable and training your horses to a whole new level. Please see that section for full details.