What should I do different?

I’ve been a long time playing but lately I’ve just been wondering if my time here is over or if I should refocus on strictly breeding (with a small racing operation) I’m not as wildly successful either racing or breeding as others, I currently don’t have any standing stallions. I don’t have millions of billions in cash flow and it’s never really been about that for me. The only thing keeping me excited is foaling seasons and the babies. I just am not quite sure and could use some suggestions on what I could/should do differently.

I’ve considered retiring all current racers at end of the year and sending all mares that qualify to be broodmares and essentially having a clean slate with my two year olds next year. Just some things I’m mulling over and if you read this far I appreciate it and am looking forward to suggestions, comments, ideas, advice.


One thing that I think would be so helpful would be for someone to organize all the FAQ’s from years past to create a new guide to FF. Someday soonish when I have the time, I mean to read through some of the old forum threads and try to pick up where I left off with the strategies that I applied to my stable.


Maybe focus on one year doing things differently (just breeding for example) and then get back to racing? Or pick 4-5 big races in which you want to participate with your horses and skip the rest?
I like the idea of rewriting FAQ too!
Also it was fun to read analyses of certain horses - freshman sires or such.

I think it depends on your time commitment and interests. I like figuring out my racehorses and trying new workout schedules, maybe some respond better to longer or shorter rests, or maybe some bloodlines just need to end so I retire them (for the last year I’ve been avoiding broodmares and stallions with several injuries and been trying to breed anyone unsound to sound horses). As for the time commitment, if you opt purely for breeding you’d basically only be busy through the foaling season then take the rest of the year off.

I will say I’ve been playing for about 15 years, and only in the past 5 have I suddenly accumulated so many stallions—many are homebreds or were acquired very young in their careers, so it feels like a great accomplishment. My broodmare herd feels stupid big, but it’s also the nicest it’s ever been so I’m just here for it. But I certainly didn’t luck upon that success right away.

If it’s of interest, you could opt for a pseudo-nursery stud approach. Maybe start by auctioning off all racehorses you don’t want to keep for breeding (fund those future stud fees while giving yourself somewhat of a reset), and every year sell off any colts born and just campaign the fillies. Some will eventually make it into the broodmare herd, and some you might feel meh about and sell. That way you are still racing to see if you enjoy it, but at a smaller scale. Or, if money isn’t a concern like you said, maybe retire literally everything you’re not interested in and only keep the fillies and mares you are interested in from a breeding stand point.

Glancing at your racehorses, unless they are genuinely running well I’d retire anything age 5+. For me personally, unless the field is small I almost never enter a stakes unless my horse is coming off a SW/SP or won their last race by at least 2 lengths. I’ve found they tend to bomb horribly otherwise.

There are some very nice/sold broodmares for sale right now for cheap that would be great as a reset broodmare band! I feel the sales market is fairly dead, which is great for anyone wanting nice stock for cheap.

I personally strongly advise AGAINST just competing in very specific races all year
because this year I’ve had so many horses be denied key races (such as stud qualification wins) by horses who sat for a year and it’s incredibly frustrating.

@Hilda_with_Clicker I’m glad you liked reading the analysis! I stopped doing these because I felt like no one cared and they took time just to have radio silence for the most part. Same with highlighting lost studs from the past year.


I would hesitate to focus on breeding in the current market with the plan to sell for a profit. You’re unlikely to recoup the cost of the stud fee.

The other advice here is solid. Don’t underestimate the importance of training.


I had a period where I couldn’t work it out, my training seemed wrong and the horses ran poor. So I focused on winning races.

I saved my pennies and only raced horses close to home (Australia) to save shipping fees. I then went into some auctions and brought from stables who were successful - that gave me an insight into how those horses had been trained - I tinkered with that. I also looked to buy some mares who had thrown stakes horses previous. I couldn’t compete with the big dollars so had to be really selective.

I have a general rule that I only breed from mares who are stakes winners or stakes placed at an absolute minimum. This helps level up your broodmare band. I try to match the mares to stallions that are similar in ground & distance or have bred well to the dam or sister etc.

I go through my results each week, the poor performers are checked against how long it’s been since they have been to the farm, as a rule if I send them for a rest it’s normally for 90 days (don’t ask why I picked that number but I tend to stick to this) or do they need a gear change? Try on a different track or distance etc.

I find sometimes it’s the simplest things, a quick check of the horses stats for track / distance / gear will a lot of time reveal a trend you’ve over looked?

Hope some of that helps, good luck either way.


Absolutely Cat, horses are worth nothing now. When I started it was nearly impossible to purchase anything as there was so much value in a decent runner.

I’d love to see monthly auctions, not from individual stables but they are general where anyone can nominate a horse. Held at the same time each month it, the repetitiveness could help stimulate interest with the horse turn over.

Thank you for your suggestions.

@CricketHill i agree, the breeding side is so flooded as it is. A good majority of my broods have had a couple years off simply because there are so many broodmares and I’ve always bred more for quality over quantity.

@Andy i have had some success breeding a solid mare coming from a good pedigree, while lacking the impressive race record to an equally solid stud and producing a strong stakes winner. (One Lucky Soul, Beau Esprit, Irish Lights) so I tend to stick to that philosophy. On the other hand I’ve had stakes winning mares while producing winners, they just couldn’t make it at stakes level.

@Shelbie the main concern I have with that is I could potentially retire a horse to early as some have been late bloomers (more so with the females than males), Choir Girl and Countess Legacy (4yos) finally seem to be hitting their stride and performing well over the jumps. I realize 4 might not be old by most standards and both have been lightly raced up to now.

As a newer player, I dont have any stallions or millions either, so I get what you mean. For me, my drive for the game has peaks and lows, but most important thing is to have fun!

Beginning of this year my horses absolutely tanked every race. I noticed it made the enjoyment of the race days became less, so I focussed on figuring out what didn’t work and turned it around with a new training schedule. Now I mainly find enjoyment in figuring out individual horses and boosting their succes. Next year my first crop will hit the track and I think I’ll especially enjoy trying to get the best performance out of the horses I personally bred.

It’s also good to keep an eye out on big auctions. I often don’t get the diamonds as the big stables bid way out of my league on them, but there’s often very nice horses that go for a lot less. I also have a system where I look at and race horses that are performing well more often than those that are not or that I expect a late peak from, those I only race every so often.

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I would try a little bit of everything suggested above.

  1. Retire some older horses (5yo+, even some 4yos) that haven’t done well their last few races. They’re likely done.
  2. Change up your training schedule, I think a few have been shared in older threads. That’s where I found one of mine and it was helpful.
  3. Next year, breed a couple of your nicer broodmares so you have some new stock coming up in a few years.
  4. Stick to allowance races, and figure out what your horses’ preferences are.

I’ve been playing for 7 years, and only in the last 2 years have I actually felt confident entering stakes races. My horses only race about once a month, and I try to stick to their preferences if I see a trend. Sometimes I throw one in a random race to see what happens, it doesn’t always go the way I want. Also, like Shelbie, I only try horses in a stakes if they’ve been performing well, as in they had a win last outing, or for 2yos & 3yos were in the top 3 sometimes.

FF is a lot of luck and a lot of strategy.

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I did enjoy that! It’s really interesting to read someone’s analysis of various horses, gives a perspective and maybe new ideas for training or racing my own.
Meanwhile I completely abandoned the Famous Races section…

I might be different but I wouldn’t even consider retiring a horse until 7+.

I tend to send them back to the farm for an extended break, change training, switch dirt / turf etc, try another distance, check if they might be a jumps horse, geld them if there’s no potential of stud qualification. Then dropping to the lowest rating race you can, even into claimers.

At worse if I can’t get an improvement then put them up for sale, someone else may find that little nugget to get it winning again. If I can’t sell them then if you can’t produce for a number of seasons then i’ll look to retire.

We are better off as a game if we have more ‘stable’ horses running around than races filled with FF horses.


Good point!

I guess what I was getting at is there are races every week for all horses - not every horse is a stakes horse and that’s ok, they still win races and make your stable money.

We should all be entering those lower grade horses to fill the fields.

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Yeah. It has gotten better with FF being less of a presence in races. I recall when nobody was running horses in claiming races other than FF, I acquired quite a few horses from those days. I miss the auctions, has anyone heard of there will be a foal auction this winter like normal? Or the select auction, I believe that used to happen in September, or October?

But also maybe we don’t need so many NW1 and NW2 allowances for 4yo+ horses…

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That is hard.

I filter my horses by who had the biggest break since running and try to enter those, plenty of times I can’t find a race in the next month or I’ve already entered my two runners and have filled up those races. So those horses just sit there.


A bit late to the conversation but figured I’d chime in anyway. I’ve been around (technically) since about 2008 (FF year 2012), first as Hokkaido Stables (I left for a time during college but couldn’t stay away) and then now as Sakura Springs, and I only stud qualified my first stallion a couple years ago. A look at some of my best stallions & mares:

  • Final Scene was purchased for $30k at 3 years old.
  • Powerful Soul was $75k at 2 years old.
  • Quirky Scent was a steal, bought from FF for $10k at 3 years old. I think he might have been a claimer.
  • My all-time best stallion, Tense Imagination, was purchased at 3 years old for $16k.
  • My mare Aria was a homebred. Her dam, Notos, was bronze-ranked when I sold her off. Aria was a late bloomer. She got her first win at 4 and her first stakes win at 5.
  • Towering Clover was a 2YO I won from the Color Wars back in the day. (I actually really miss those).
  • Fractal was also a homebred. At the time she was born, her sire was bronze-ranked and her dam was unranked. Her dam, Limelight, was the first foal born in my stable back when I joined as Hokkaido Stables, and I purchased her for her claim price of $30k.

All of this to say, the cost of a horse doesn’t necessarily determine its worth. I have my highs and lows. This year has not been my best year, although part of that has to do with the fact that IRL life has kicked me in the seat of my pants and I just don’t have as much time or energy to devote to the game as I would like. Because to be really, truly successful, it does require some effort. Still, there are ways to make it easier on yourself.

For me, I do some of what has been mentioned above. I really got going by purchasing horses from more successful stables and checking their training patterns. It helped me get a foothold on a part of the game I simply couldn’t understand. There’s no one tried-and-true training method that works for all horses every time, but it can at least give you a baseline.

For racing a horse, I typically only race them once a month and ship them home for 2 weeks after every 2-3 races or months (whichever comes first). Overkill? Maybe. But I usually see a boost in overall performance when I run them this way.

I have also developed a ton (and I do mean a ton) of data analysis sheets to work off of over the years. The things I have found most helpful to track are what I call their success percentiles and their time scores.

I calculate a horse’s success percentile by dividing their place in a race by how many horses ran alongside them. A win in a field of 5 isn’t as impressive as a win in a field of 14. The lower the overall percentage, the better a horse does, and I’ve found that trend to be relatively consistent. I track those percentiles in several different ways: overall performance, performance by racing year, and performance by track. Most stud-qualified stallions land in the 42% range for overall performance, and I get most of my top-three placings at or below 25%. That’s usually how I judge whether or not to enter a horse in a stakes race.

On top of that, I’ve developed a sheet of “time scores” to compare a horse’s running time to those of other horses based on distance. (I should note that I have not tested this on SC horses. I only run flat.) I really love Final Furlong and it has saddened me to see so many people dropping out because of lack of success, so I’m going to post a screenshot of my time score sheet here in case it might be helpful.

Sometimes, a horse can bomb a race (or even two or three), but when I look at the time scores, they are still running well. When I first created this method of judging a horse’s success, I was almost guaranteed a win at the Level 3 mark (the purple column). Many horses now are getting their wins at 4, 5, and 6. There have been races where I’ve had a horse run 5th even with a score of 4. Horses that have been chilling for half a year are most likely to fall into that category.

There’s a lot more that goes into my strategy than that, but those methods of tracking a horse’s success have made a huge difference in my team’s overall performance. In FF year 2020, my OTB was 16%. The next year was when I began developing these methods, and it bumped to 37%. Last year, my OTB was 61% out of 393 races.

All of this to say, I hope you don’t give up. It takes some work, but if you’re up for the challenge, it is entirely possible to be successful and at least stay competitive in this game. Wishing you all the best!

Edit: I forgot to mention one thing about the time scores. 2YOs almost never score higher than a 2. By nature they run slower. A good winning score for a 2YO is between 0 and 1.