Farewell Season 4, Long Live Season 5


Welcome all, Photo Finish Faithful!

As we gaze wistfully into our screens, looking back on yet another record-breaking season in the books in Photo Finish™ LIVE, I am reminded of the famous Olde English poem, by Art Vandelay:

In Photo Finish yclept, tales abound,
Richie joined, his horses, renown found.
‘Gainst Fib Newton, claiming races took flight,
In the hearth of competition, burning bright.

First crop of foals, in fields were born,
The dawn of a new season, a morn adorned.
Many a stat fixed, improvements uncounted,
Each stride, each gallop, meticulously recounted.

The Pellenor Fields, Derby’s victor, hailed,
In the second show of Kentucky, he prevailed.
David, the illustrious, to our joy, returned,
In the annals of the game, his legend, re-earned.

Season 4 saw some major schedule updates; the base schedule itself and how it is generated was overhauled, many more claimers, plus more varied weight distributions on allowances.

Through these efforts, we have seen a healthy increase in race entry, offsetting some of the lull we expected from the first breeding periods before the first crop of foals are ready to enter the racing population (August 28th!) – but we think we can do even better!

Here are some of the changes you can expect for the Season 5 racing schedule…

Graded Race Distribution

For graded (read: higher stakes) races, we now ensure that all base archetypes (RT/LT/RD/LD) have coverage at short, medium and long furlong distances over each week of the season. Time for the high rollers to really start throwing down!

Racing After Dark

A hot new addition is what we’ve coined the ‘After Dark’ race schedule. We’re experimenting here, where on Tuesday and Thursday nights, starting at 11pm EST we want to enable and encourage great moments of community and excitement via the best kind of degen-focused racing.

The two main elements of the After Dark races are…

FREE ENTRY 16-horse Handicap races

What does this mean?
Well, it means every single horse in the game can race against each other with weight added to even the playing field. Also, the special “After Dark Selection Committee” chooses horses completely at random in the case of races being oversubscribed.

Why would you want to enter? 
Because the rewards are totally uncapped, which means the winnings are funded entirely by the rake from the wagering pool! How big can it grow??

What if I don’t make it in?
Immediately after each scheduled After Dark Handicap closes, a spillover first-come-first-serve free-entry race opens for you to take another shot at. Clicking fingers must stay ready!

Everyone has a shot… After Dark.

High-stakes Claimers

Prior to this season, the highest we’ve ever set a claiming race is at 100k $DERBY – but these races will be 125/150k on Tuesday and 175/200k on Thursday.

Race entry for these special high stakes claimers will open at the very start of the week (Sunday at Midnight) and remain open until an hour before the After Dark races begin.

The HIGHEST-stakes claiming races currently in the schedule will happen on Saturdays… which leads us to our next point…


Major Race Rebranding

Each Major Race series now has its own name and custom logos and branding.

The four series:

– The Third Time Championship ( Right / Dirt )
– Harbor Classic ( Left / Turf )
– Artemis Cup (Right / Turf)
– The Kentucky Derby (We’re sure you know this one but…Left / Dirt )

Additionally, we have added undercard races which will proceed the Classics from each racing series on Saturday nights (EST).

The undercard:
– A balanced set of exciting allowance races – ones that we’ve seen based on analysis that are most likely to fill
– The HIGHEST-stakes (250k) Claimer, one per week, of differing archetype just in case of possible race entry overlap for some high grade Classic contenders.

Claimer entry fee adjustments

Previously, claimer entry fees were a flat 1/40th of the claim price across the board. This led to some seriously low entry fees which resulted in a bit of a community outcry.

Well, we have listened and implemented a new fee structure for Claimers which we believe effectively offsets claiming fees and improves ROI for well-performing Claiming racers.

We are happy with all of the new Claiming race activity of season 4, but as you know we are still looking to hone in on the most effective tuning to really drive this race-type home. Thoughtful feedback is always appreciated.


Racing Incentives

Lastly, we have mentioned upcoming changes to the way we plan to continue to encourage racing via platform fees from things like breeding, marketplace, etc. We continue to dine on delicious ramen while racers engorge on the sweet sweet in-game currency of DERBY. That breakdown was previously:

A) End of season airdrop, pro-rata from racing fees: 100%

We are changing this to:

A) End of season airdrop, pro-rata from racing fees: 40%
B) Juicing graded and major series races: 40%
C) Juicing parimutuel pots on free-entry races: 10%
D) Reserve for marketing: 10%


Firstly, ALL racers will still receive a cut of all raked Derby as in previous seasons. This may not stay this way forever but we can see anecdotally the general population is racing more than they would otherwise due to this airdrop.

Second, another 40% will go towards our major races, qualifier run-ups, and generally all graded races. Incentivization at the very top level of our ecosystem not only creates more excitement and buzz around major races, but also raises the ROI on top-level horses,  creating a pull towards excellence and prestige that properly adheres with the Sport of Kings.

Third, we plan to reserve 10% to put back into parimutuel pools to stimulate wagering. We are really looking to begin experimenting with incentivising wagering activity in the coming seasons, and this smaller slice should begin to give us some good data as we begin to experiment with growing this side of the economy.

Finally, we shall reserve 10% for discretionary marketing purposes.

Now, what we envision might be the most controversial part…or maybe not…who knows!

For items B, C, and D, those will not start until SEASON 6, with the funds for them coming from SEASON 5. Which means that Season 5 (our last season before the crop of foals begin racing), there will be a 60% reduction in DERBY airdrop in order to more predictably be able to spread out the stimulus in Season 6. We thought long and hard about this, but we just cannot reasonably take platform fees on a daily or even weekly basis and be throwing them into races as they come up. Aside from it being a lot of work, it also is a real negative experience for you the owner, not knowing when or how to plan out your season. This will then forever be rolling on this schedule through the growth phase: the current season’s platform fees fund the racing incentives for the following season.

With clear, quantitative numbers embedded into the schedule at the start, this will allow you – our player base – to make far more informed decisions ahead of time.


As always, these are general decisions and pieces of guidance, and we all reserve the right to remain fluid and change things based on data, analysis, and /or community feedback. We think these are all great new steps to continue the momentum going into next season and beyond, but of course we’re not robots and are able and willing to change things as needed. We can’t wait to discuss these things with you in Discord or on Twitter and continue to build the number one web3 game in the world.

That’s all for now – see you in Discord, and see you on the track!

Want to join the fun?

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