I must admit I was very excited to learn that after years of waiting, a game
company was finally going to release another horse racing sim for the PC. Other than
Quarter Pole and Hooves of Thunder, there hasn't been a decent horse racing game for the
PC for at least the last 10 years. So it was with great expectations that I rushed
out to my local Electronics Boutique, slapped down my $19.99, and went home to install
Upon opening the box, one finds nothing but a two page instruction sheet and a
CD-ROM enclosed in one of those paper sleeves. No wonder the box was so light...no
jewel case, and no user's manual. Oh well, I guess they saved some money by putting
the user's manual on the CD-ROM.
I elected to perform the full installation, which required 300+ megabytes of hard
disk space. The game also requires you to install DirectX 7.0 if it is not already
installed on your system. You'll have to know yourself whether you have DirectX 7.0
already on your machine, as the program gives you the option to install DirectX 7.0 or
not, but it doesn't tell you if you already have it installed on your PC.
After all of the files are copied from the CD-ROM to your hard drive, the game
requires that you reboot your computer.
All in all, the installation was fairly uneventful, I rebooted my computer and
started the game.
When you first start the game, you are treated to a full screen video of the
rousing Daily Racing Form commercial you may have seen on TV this year. It serves
its purpose and gets the blood flowing.
The graphics which follow the introduction leave something to be desired. As
you can see by the following screenshots, the graphics in DRF Horse Racing are adequate
for a game of this nature, although far from state of the art. The main problem with
the graphics in the game is the lack of different views while the race is running.
Although the view from behind is very useful when you are the jockey, it would have been
nice to view the race as a spectator from the traditional racing angles that one would see
on television or at the track.
The audio in the game is fitting. The pounding of hoofs, the start of the
race, and the call of Michael Wrona are all fairly well done. Wrona only calls horse
numbers though, and not horse names, and his calls get very tiresome after a while.
Music, sound effects, and race calls can be turned on or off at will.
Here is the most important aspect of any game. If it doesn't play well, and
in the case of a simulation, if it doesn't make you feel as if you are part of the game it
is simulating, it hasn't done its job. DRF Horse Racing fails miserably in this
This is NOT a simulation of Thoroughbred horse racing. At least not as I know
the sport. I don't know if they ever intended this to be a simulation. I
certainly hope not.
Gameplay consists of purchasing a horse with the $50,000 you are given at the start
of the game, entering this horse in one of 10 races, and deciding whether or not you want
to be the jockey, or hire a jockey for a specific sum of money. That's basically it,
and no I am not joking!
There is no condition book, no racing season, no assortment of distances to race
at, no claiming, maiden, or allowance classes, no statistics kept except for wins, places,
shows and money won, no split times in the races, and on and on. Every race you
enter has seven computer generated opponents, meaning that every race has eight horses no
matter what. Like I said earlier, this is not a simulation. In fact, I'm not
really sure what it is, because it is not completely without its charm.
For instance, after you purchase a horse, you must manage it in a way to conserve
your funds so that you will be able to enter races (which have entry fees, depending on
the race and purse). The management aspect is bizarre, in that it includes such
things as deciding the type of trainer, training emphasis (speed, endurance, acceleration,
or strength), training schedule (how many times per week to train), type of farrier, type
of feed, and quantity of feed. You would think a game that gets down to the type and
quantity of feed would also have included a few more races to enter as well as kept track
of some statistics. Like I said, bizarre!
As previously noted, there are only ten races in which you can enter your horse(s).
Although there are races on both turf and dirt, the distance of every race is
exactly the same. You can see all ten in the screenshot above. These ten races
have purses ranging from $2,000 to $1,000,000, and entry fees ranging from $100 to
$250,000. If you attempt to repeatedly enter a race in which you've done well in,
the computer will tell you that running the horse in that spot will hurt its
training. Another bizarre occurrence. Since when does entering a horse in an
easy spot hurt its training?
In order to make money, you have to finish first, second, or third in a race.
Other ways to make money in the game are to bet on the races, or receive money
through randomly generated acts, such as the sale of a horse trailer. You also incur
randomly generated expenses, such as an injured hoof requiring special farrier services.
Being the jockey may be the best part of the game. Although your control is
limited to urging your horse on, holding him back, or going left or right, the way the
speed and stamina meters are utilized is challenging, and I must admit I enjoyed actually
riding the horse in the game.
Once you own a stallion and a filly or mare, you can go to the breeding shed and
produce an offspring for a fee. The resultant foal will have a combination of speed,
stamina, acceleration, and strength as inherited from the sire and dam. The breeding
aspect is very, very basic, and not at all what I had expected when I read on the box that
breeding was included.
Internet play is supported in the game, but I must admit I did not test this
aspect. It took me all of about 2 hours to buy a horse and win every race in the
game, and by that point, I couldn't see myself playing anymore, either against the
computer or another human being over the 'net.
I have no idea what they were thinking when they designed this
game. It barely resembles the sport it is trying to represent. In fact, it
seems as though the game could just be one big advertisement for the Daily Racing Form and
other sponsor products which appear in the game. In fact, by going to the sponsor
websites, you can earn additional cash codes that can be used in the game to get more
racing money for your stable.
Thoroughbred racing is a sport with so much complexity, and so much history, that
it is ripe for simulation on a PC. Where is the game that includes Secretariat,
Affirmed, Alydar, Man o'War, Seattle Slew, and all the other greats whom we would love to
match up on our computer screens. We have PC basketball games with the actual faces
of NBA players included, and football games with all-time great teams included so that the
player can see if the Cowboys of the '70s were as good as the 49ers of the '90s.
It's a shame this level of horse racing game has yet to exist.
Quarter Pole and Hooves of Thunder came close with their excellent inclusion of a
racing season, condition book, and amazing amount of statistics, as well as an infinite
number of years to operate your stable. However, they never included a breeding
option, or historical real-life champion Thoroughbreds.
If you thought that DRF Horse Racing was a successor to Hooves of Thunder, save
your money. DRF Horse Racing is nothing but a shell of a game with almost an
unfinished feel to it as well as very limited replayability.