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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 is to enter your horse into races most suited to their attributes and preferences. While entering the perfect race with the perfect conditions that match your horse’s preferences is ideal, you’ll routinely be faced with decisions that call for selecting the best available options. In addition, as you have to race your horse to figure out its attributes as they’re hidden until retirement, there’s a lot of strategy and skill involved.

When entering a race, we recommend most players go to their horse and then click on the “Find Preferred Races” button, as it automatically sorts for races your horse can enter that share its turn and surface preferences.

0 & 1 Year-Old Foals 

They can’t race yet.

2 Year Old Juveniles 

It’s a momentous day when your foal finally turns two and can race.  They will only be able to run in “Juvenile” races, which tend to have lower entry fees.  That’s a good thing, though!  This way, you can figure out your horse’s strengths and weaknesses before hitting the big time as a three-year-old.  

You should have a couple of big goals for your juvenile horse:

  • Figure out its “Distance Preference” (DP).  Every single horse has a distance that it prefers to race at.  For some, it’s like 4-6 furlongs or 10-12 furlongs.  Others prefer two furlongs, like 7-8 or 10-11.  And some horses are very specific and just like one furlong.  So try your horse at different lengths and WATCH THE RACE; it gives hints of where the horse does best.  For example, if you enter into an 11-furlong race and your horse is in first from 7-9 furlongs and then falls back to 5th place, you know to try dialing in their DP at 7-9 with future races.

Once you figure out your horse’s DP on the Preferred Races screen, we suggest creating and saving its min and max furlongs using this button:

That way, when you are on the preferred races for a specific horse, you’ll be able to go to the Saved Filters dropdown menu and see something like this:

You can then select the Preferred Distance for your horse and further filter its races to just those distances.  As your stable gets bigger, this will be important.

You want to race it in at least three non-handicap races to establish its “Benchmark.”  All races except handicaps count towards this, and you need this to race in Benchmark races as a 3-year-old.

Your two-year-old will be able to race in the following Juvenile races:


These are GREAT to race in until you get that first win.  Just select one with your horse’s grade listed in the allowances.  For example, DO NOT race your B horse in a Maiden that lists S- to S+ horses in the allowance section, as it will not be competitive.


Allowance races are also great for almost every horse grade, as they’re designed to level the playing field. Like above, just ensure your horse’s grade is listed in the allowance section; otherwise, it’ll likely be outclassed.


Handicaps are good for all levels as weight is added in an attempt to level the field. But remember, these races don’t count towards your Benchmark rating so make sure you get in at least three other race types.

Grade Restricted Stakes

Grade Restricted Stakes allow you to race against other horses of the same grade.  If, for example, the race is an A+ Grade Restricted, DO NOT race in it with an A- or lower, as your chance of being competitive is very low.

Grade III, II, and I Races

These are the races where the big dogs hang. If your horse isn’t an S- or higher, the chances are you won’t be competitive.  The entry fees are high, and the competition is stiff.  Grade II is higher than Grade III, and Grade I is the most competitive. 


Claiming Races are unique in that every single horse can be purchased or “claimed” at a predetermined price.  As such, only race in these races if you’re comfortable with your horse potentially being purchased at the claiming price.

These races tend to somewhat level the playing field as an expensive S-grade horse isn’t going to enter into a 20k DERBY Claimer and dominate the field because, despite the win, they would no doubt get claimed for 20k.

3 to 8 Year-Old Horses

First, it’s important to note that only three-year-olds can race in the four Major Races like the Virtual Kentucky Derby and Artemis Cup. As such, plan your calendar wisely.

Second, all horses have a “Peak Age”.  Most horses peak between 3 and 5, but there are outliers on each side.  Remember this as you face your horse, evaluate its ongoing performance, and make strategic decisions.

Unlike Juveniles, 3 to 8-year-old horses do not have maiden races, allowance races, or grade-restricted races.  They still have claimers, handicaps, and Grades III, II, and I, and we suggest racing in them as outlined above.  However, they have two new race types: Benchmark Restricted and Benchmark Allowance races.  

Your horse’s Benchmark rating is an average of its recent Fleet Figures with some special secret sauce mixed in.  This is one of the many areas you can see this number: 

Benchmark Restricted

These races have a “max Benchmark” that your horse must be equal or below to enter. This ensures that the horses racing yours are somewhat equal in ability but make no mistake, there’s a lot of strategy at play here…

Benchmark Allowance

These races specify a range your horse must fall into AND weight is removed in increasing amounts the lower your rating is.

As your horse continues to race, age, and face new competition, you must continually evaluate and adjust your strategy. Make no mistake, Photo Finish Live is a game of skill and strategy, and as always, we welcome you to join the public Discord chat and ask questions.

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