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Season 15: Richie Check-In

We usually kick off each new Photo Finish™ season by reviewing last season's racing, and horse picks participation and previewing what's to come.

Excuse our tardiness this season. Those of you who followed along with our experience at the Kentucky Derby last weekend can probably imagine how we're still catching up on things and recovering from a memorable and moving few days at Churchill Downs. 

With that said – welcome to Season 15! There is a lot of buzz, excitement, and data to chat about, so let's get to it. 

Reflections on Season 14

Season 14 saw a nice 1.82% increase in the number of races run, demonstrating the game's growing appeal even amidst a challenging economic environment. 

Despite downward pressures on $CROWN from the crypto market downturn, racing remained strong, with season entry fees only decreasing by 3.28%. That's a testament to our community's commitment.

It was also encouraging that 80-90% of all horses were active in races, maintaining high engagement levels.

Pick participation also notably saw significant growth, with Net Handle increasing by 12.17% and users making horse picks by 9.6%. This steady progress is crucial as we enhance the player experience and engagement through competitive and fair horse pick opportunities.

On the Benchmarks

The data is in—horses of all grades have varying performances in benchmark races, proving that benchmark races are working!

So far, we have discovered that most horses can perform competitively if their benchmarks are close. That's super encouraging and something to build on as we aim to ensure as many races as possible feature a level and competitive playing field.

Check out the data below.

From Season 11 to Season 14, we saw that A-graded horses could compete with S-graded horses, and the entry and win rates speak for themselves.

Also note that since there isn't a floor to Benchmark Restricted Stakes races, it doesn't preclude horses way outside benchmark ranges from entering, which may potentially lower the win percentage and increase the entry percentage.

Welcoming New Players

With the influx of new stables, we've worked harder than ever to ensure it's a fantastic time to be a newcomer. As many of you have noticed, thanks to Superfecta, we're sitting well above 20,000 stables, over 10% of which have horses and are racing. That number does not include $CROWN stakers or those who make horse picks, but it's a solid star to shoot for. 

To accomplish that goal, we've refined our schedule to provide an optimal start for new players. From starting in Maiden races to testing your skill at grade-restricted races to gauge how strong your horse is.

Users can find out where to optimally run their horses. Are they a top end that can compete in Grade 1, 2, or 3 stakes? Can they find their niche in benchmarks if they aren't competitive in Grade-restricted races?

Or are they going to excel in allowance or handicap races? There are several different race options for a horse to find their own niche!

Race Type Reviews

Speaking of newcomers, here's a quick TL;DR of how we intend for the schedule to work. Hopefully, this will clear the skies and let you focus on a specific target. 

  • Maidens: Perfect for newcomers to test their horse's initial capabilities.
  • Grade Restricted Stakes: Helps understand how your horse stacks up against similar competition.
  • Graded Stakes: Best on Best. There are no restrictions on grades. It's purely the best horses versus the best horses for the highest stakes.
  • Benchmarks: Offers a competitive field by matching horses with similar recent performance, ensuring fair and exciting races.
  • Claimers: ideal for owners looking to adjust their stable's lineup by racing against horses at similar valuation levels.
  • Allowance Races: Weight is added based on known conditions, whether it's by grade for lower grade races, recent performance in the last 5 races, or by benchmark score in non-winners races
  • Handicap Races: A race where each horse is allocated a weight, according to its ability, in an attempt to equalize every horse's chance of winning

What's New in Season 15

For Season 15, we've made some pivotal adjustments:

  • Rising Stars Events: Now moved to the third Thursday of the season, these events provide a spotlight for emerging talents in your stables.
  • Community Feedback for Event Replacements: We're asking our community to help us decide what exciting new events could replace the Rising Stars slot.
  • Lower-end Benchmarks: Observations from Season 14 highlighted that lower-end horses were underrepresented in benchmark races. This season, we aim to address this gap, ensuring that all horses have a chance to compete effectively.

What We're Watching in Season 15

This season, we are closely monitoring the effectiveness of our new scheduling and race types to make early adjustments for both this season and the next. We're also going to continually work to ensure all newcomers are enticed to get out on the tracks, where we'll have a friendly atmosphere that is welcoming yet competitive waiting for them. 

We aim to continuously improve the racing environment and ensure every horse and stable owner has the best possible experience.

Looking Ahead to Season 16

Season 16 planning is already underway. The focus is on optimizing and potentially expanding the range of Benchmark races, particularly for the undercard races. This adjustment will enhance competitive balance and provide more racing opportunities across all grades.

We encourage all players to stay active in our community discussions and provide feedback. Your insights are invaluable as we strive to make Photo Finish™ LIVE the best possible.

Here's to a successful Season 15!