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Racing Basics

Learn about different types of horse races and more.

Which races should I enter?

Isn’t that the million dollar question! Which races you choose to enter is one of the major choices you will make as a stable owner. Generally speaking, your goal (assuming your goal is maximum performance and not say, limit testing) is to enter your horse(s) into races that are MOST suited to their attributes and preferences.

We consider Gaia Mode for the Golden Gate Allowance.

An example case

We see here that the Golden Gate Allowance is an 8 furlong, right-turning turf race. The weather prediction is a 50% chance of Cloudy weather, meaning that there is a 1/2 chance that at the time of the race the Condition of the track will be “Soft”. Gaia Mode is a horse which is fully suited to the race by Preference (provided the weather ends up being Cloudy), preferring soft, right-turning turf tracks. An 8 furlong race is a middle distance race, meaning her Speed and Stamina will be important primary stats. Although there are no other horses currently entered, her S grade Heart and Temper stats may be important difference makers – depending on the level of competition she faces once the race begins! In short, Gaia Mode is a horse which is fairly well suited to the Golden Gate Allowance – the only major thing left to contend with is the level of competition she will end up facing when the horn sounds.

What are the differences between race types?

Races in Photo Finish Live can be one of a number of different types. A race’s type determines how competitive it will be as well as whether any special rules will be in effect, The Race Grades are:

  • Claiming
  • Maiden
  • Allowance
  • Ungraded Stakes
  • Grade III (Stakes)
  • Grade II (Stakes)
  • Grade I (Stakes)

This list is in order of competition level. More competitive races often have more entrants and bigger purses. Some race types also have special rules.



A Claiming Race is a special race in which the horses running may be purchased before the race begins. These are the lowest tier of race as they are meant for horses the owners do not feel confident in.

All horses in a Claiming Race are purchasable for an amount listed before the race. If a horse is purchased in a claiming race, the New Owner receives any prizes won during that race. Occasionally, other Race Types can be Claiming Races. If they are, they will be clearly marked.


A Maiden Race is a special race that only accepts horses that have never won a race before. It is often the first step towards discovering the next big champion.

Juvenile Races

Juvenile races are not considered a a special race type. However, if you see this term around, it refers to special races that are exclusively available to 2 year old horses. These races are particularly cheap and exist to help owners test and appraise young colts and fillies before the big racing season at age 3.

Allowance Races

Horse races with conditional entry criteria. Ex. how much money a horse has won, age, sex, weight etc. – the general purpose is to create even fields in the interest of competition and wagering/handicapping.

Stakes Races/Graded Stakes Races

The top tier of race types, a stakes race is generally reserved for the more elite thoroughbreds. It is called a stakes race in reference to it’s entry fee structure providing a portion of the prize money. Not all stakes races are graded.

Graded stakes races are stakes races with grade entry restrictions. Grades are essentially tiers of horse performance awarded by various official horse racing organizations. The lowest grade is IV (although being graded is prestigious itself), the highest grade is grade I – the most prestigious races in the world are grade 1 stakes races; the Kentucky Derby, the Triple Crowns, etc.

How do race payouts work?

Every race in Photo Finish Live has an Entry Fee and a Race Purse to divide among the winners. The purse and the payout is based on the number of players that enter.

Before a race starts, the maximum purse is displayed. After the race begins, the actual purse is calculated based on the number of entrants. If there are fewer entrants than expected, the full purse may be smaller than the initial listing.

The race payout structure is as follows:

  1. 1.60% of the Purse
  2. 2.~60% of the Remainder
  3. 3.~30%o f the Remainder
  4. 4.~10% of the Remainder
  5. 5.1% of the Purse

For the above, the Remainder is 40% of the purse, – 1% for each entrant after the fourth.

What are Morning Line Odds?

When you go to view / enter / wager on a race, you’re not the only person at the track. In addition to players, the track has an Odds Maker who attempts to put odds on each horse entering the contest.

The Odds Maker is pretty smart, but they aren’t perfect. They can only see what you do, so they judge horses based on the grade, attributes, and preferences listed. They also check the horse’s race history to get a sense of how well they’ve run before. The more races a horse has run, the more accurate their odds are.

However, the Odds Makers isn’t exactly trying to predict the winner of the race. Morning Line Odds are a prediction of how the Odds Maker expects people to bet. If a horse has won recently, won at this distance, or is a fan favorite, the Odds Maker might favor it. Keep that in mind if you’re eyeing the odds for your own bet.


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