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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 this program.


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 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.

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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 area.

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.


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