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What Are Some Horse Buying Strategies?

Greeting Photo Finish Live virtual horse racing fans! This article will cover various simple strategies for buying your first digital racehorse. It is not intended to cover getting set up and the basics of the game; for that, please read this guide.

One must first understand that Photo Finish Live is a strategy game with tremendous depth. There is no single strategy for purchasing a horse; there are many.

The game is challenging, and there is a learning curve, as there should be, as the game mirrors so much of real-life horse ownership and racing. We will cover some SIMPLE strategies you may choose from but know that there are much more advanced strategies, and developing your own over time may allow you a slight edge. The idea here is to get you started.

When viable, I will provide a marketplace link with each strategy that already filters for horses that meet the strategy.

Filters are critical to finding the horses you seek in the marketplace.

Before we begin, remember that all prices are in DERBY, the in-game currency. 80 DERBY = $1.00, and once again, we go over how to acquire it in this guide.

If you have questions, please join the Photo Finish Live Discord chat and ask for help. The community is fantastic.

Race Horse Buying Strategies

Strategy 1 — Buy A “Cheap” Filly Foal

Filly foals are sorted by cheapest to most expensive — this filters so only 0–1 year old female horses show and are ranked cheapest first.

It’s common for a newcomer’s first purchase to be a filly foal. Fillies are foundational horses in a stable because when retired and bred, THEY keep the foal. As such, a single filly can breed upwards of 20 times in her life (once per season, and they live into their early 20s), but then the fillies she births can do the same. As a result, a single filly can result in hundreds of horses over time.

Foals tend to be cheaper than 2+ year old horses because they can’t race or breed yet, so there’s a discount for being patient. Horses can race at age 2 and retire to breed at age 3. Seasons are 28 days long, and the horse ages one year at the start of each one.

There’s a saying, “No such thing as a bad filly”. Yes, some are absolutely better than others, but you can always breed a lower-quality filly with a high-quality stud for a chance at a very solid horse.

Buying one of the cheap filly foals gives you a foot in the door for a lower price while you further learn the game as the horse ages.

Tip — Click on the horses you’re looking at and check their family tree via the “bloodline” tab. Were their parents good racers? While that doesn’t guarantee your foal will be a good racer, it increases the odds. When you’re on the parent horse screen, click on the “progeny” tab and see if your horse has some close relatives doing well (or poorly) on the track as an additional hint.

Strategy 2 — Buy a Cheap Raceable Colt

2–7 years old colts ranked by price — This filters for 2–7 year old colts (males) by price.

Many people understandably want to get on the track as soon as possible. One strategy in this case is to get a cheap colt (colts tend to be less expensive than fillies) to learn the game without expending a lot of capital. Horses can race from age 2 to 8 and are then force retired at 9. I made the filter 2–7 as I worry some people would buy an 8-year-old horse near the end of the season, and it would be largely worthless thereafter. However, if it’s early in the season you can get some very cheap eight year old colts, just adjust the filter.

Tip — If you read our Guide to Photo Finish Live, you’ll remember that horses have a “peak age,” and that is usually between 3 and 5. As such, while 6+ year old horses are usually cheaper, note that not only will they be retiring sooner, but they may not be as strong a racer as they once were.

Strategy 3 — Claim A Horse Via Claiming Races

Claiming Races — This filter links to the races tab rather than marketplace as “Claiming Races” are a unique race type where every horse that races is up for sale for the same “Claiming Price”. Before the race, you can “place a claim” on a horse you think is the best, and if you’re the only person to claim the horse OR you win the automated lottery if there are multiple claimers, you receive the horse at the end of the race.

Claiming races can be as cheap as 30,000 DERBY and go over 200,000 DERBY for high-end claimers. This is a great way to learn about horses and racing. Here’s a guide to claiming races.

Strategy 4 — Find a “Late Peaking” Colt for Cheap

3–4 year old colts with very poor race earnings — This filters for 3–4 year old colts that have seen very little success on the track.

As mentioned previously, every horse has a “peak age”. Most peak between 3–5 years old but some are early and some are late. It’s not uncommon for people with late peaking horses to sell them on the marketplace out of frustration because they’ve performed so poorly on the track. If you’re able to spot such horses and think they still have potential once they start to mature, then you could find yourself a nice little money printer. Be careful though, it’s certainly possible that the horse is just a donkey. One tool you can use to help you is go to the horse’s “Fleet Figures” tab. Is the graph slowly trending up? Maybe it is a late bloomer…

Strategy 5 — Find A Racing Colt With Two “1/1’s” in the Bloodline

This strategy is courtesy of MonkeTennis, a great player who hangs out in the Photo Finish Discord. There is no way to filter for 1/1 blood, you have to check yourself. He writes:

In general on the marketplace I look to buy cheap colts. I like to buy them when they are foals because people don’t want to wait. I just tuck them away and forget about them and wait for them to be 2 years old.

Things I look at:
1) 2 “1/1s” in the bloodline. These get knocked because of breeding but if you want to race they tend to breed very strong offspring. The 1/1’s are the horses that had the 1/1 PFPs. You can see five the male 1/1’s listed first here and the females looked similar.

2) Preferences (the number of stars a horse has) are important but not crucial. Try to have at least 5 in the direction and turn.

3) Complementary stats in the parents. So for example if the stud and mare each had strongest stats in stamina one might expect a long distance runner.

Strategy 6 — Buy From Known Top Bloodlines

Certain horses have just plain produced a lot of winners. You can see the top breeding horses and their progeny using this tool. It can be worthwhile to buy a horse with quality bloodlines.

Strategy 7 — Race and Breed With the Big Dogs

0–4 Year Old S to S+ Horses — This filter provides you all the 0–4 year old S and S+ horses which are the top graded horses in the game at present. We know some of you want to dive in head first and run / breed with the big dogs so here’s your filter. Take your time with your research and ask lots of questions in Discord and before long, you could be the next powerhouse stable hitting the leader boards.

There are countless other strategies for buying horses, these are simply examples to get you going. The game is fantastic, will only get better, and the best horses will be bred years in the future. So dive in and join the best horse racing ecosystem in existence. See you on the track!

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