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|Introduction to Distance|
|Every horse on Flying for Home has a genetic bias for distance. This bias is determined by their Speed and Stamina Aptitude Genes (not to be confused with Early Speed and Late Speed, which are Stat Genes). You can see these genes if you purchase Aptitude Genes, Genetic Ratings, or have a Genotype purchased for your horse. If you are new, the best way to figure out what your horse likes is by purchasing their Aptitude Genes (from the Geneticist or their Genetics page, which is relatively inexpensive).
Speed and Stamina genes work together to determine what distance(s) your horse is most suitable for. They also determine what your horse's favorite distance is, which is covered in more detail below. The important thing to note is that horses with strong Speed tend to perform best in shorter races, while horses with strong Stamina tend to perform best in longer races. While most horses are either bred for Speed or Stamina, you may be lucky enough to find a horse bred for both - also known as a 'Versatile' horse. You may encounter horses with no aptitude for any distance, which are considered 'Intermediate' and will favor mid-range distances.
By looking at your horse's Speed and Stamina genes, you can loosely categorize them into one of the groups below.
Good/Fair/Poor Speed & Good/Fair/Poor Stamina
Intermediate; usually prefers 7-9 furlongs
Stock breeds: 400-600 yards | Standardbreds: 8 furlongs
Excellent/Outstanding Speed & Good/Fair/Poor Stamina
Speed-dominant; usually prefers 4-7 furlongs
Stock breeds: 100-400 yards | Standardbreds: 7-8 furlongs
Good/Fair/Poor Speed & Excellent/Outstanding Stamina
Stamina-dominant; usually prefers 9-12 furlongs
Stock breeds: 600-900 yards | Standardbreds: 8-9 furlongs
Excellent/Outstanding Speed & Excellent/Outstanding Stamina
Versatile; may prefer anything from 5-11 furlongs
Stock breeds: 200-800 yards | Standardbreds: 7-9 furlongs
It is worth noting that genetically Intermediate horses are generally at a disadvantage. With no real aptitude for any distance, they receive a penalty to their potential. They also struggle to maintain distance familiarity and gain distance familiarity slower.
On the other hand, Versatile distance horses are very desirable for numerous reasons. Excelling at any distance you point them at, they receive a boost to their potential. For Thoroughbreds and Goldbloods especially, they're also easy to campaign through series races, being able to run in Gems as a 2yo, Trinities as a 3yo, and whatever you'd like to point them at as a 4yo+.
Horses lose distance familiarity at each monthly rollover at a rate based on their Distance Genes.
|Training & Racing|
With the above information in mind, you should usually aim to train your horse for distance(s) that suit their genetic bias. There may be occasions where you want to train horses outside of this range, and that is perfectly fine. Some examples might include training a 2yo for Sprint distances to get them racing sooner or training a horse for any random distance to fill in a gap in your roster (for example if you have no stamina-dominant horses, you might train a speed-dominant horse for longer distances). You may also want to train a horse outside of their genetic bias for series races. However, horses will lose distance familiarity faster at distances they do not have a genetic aptitude for.
So long as a horse is trained at any given distance, they can successfully race at that distance. No matter what distance you are training, you want to ensure a horse is trained to at least a yellow star before entering a race. If a horse is not well-trained for a distance, their Performance Rating (PR) may suffer and they could be at higher risk for injury.
As you get more invested in your horses and want to maximize your success on Flying for Home, favorite distance will become more important to you. Every horse has a favorite distance - a distance at which they are genetically predisposed to run their best. This typically falls within the ranges mentioned above.
There are two ways to figure out your horse's favorite distance. First, it is available in the Forever Pro Traits panel if you have a Forever Pro. Don't have a Forever Pro? You can look through your horse's race history and see if you can find a correlation between distance and (estimated) PR. If you notice that your horse almost always runs a few points higher in 5 furlong races, that might be their favorite! You can also do some guess work through buddy workouts and regular training, as horses will have higher BW scores at favorite distance and will also improve proficiency faster when training.
In addition to having a single favorite distance, horses will also run better at the distances on either side of their favorite. In other words, if a horse's best (favorite) distance is 6 furlongs, they will also race better at 5 and 7 furlongs than any other distances. With this in mind, if you can see favorite distance you should usually aim to train a horse at their favorite distance and the distances on either side of it. Using this example, you'd want to train the horse for 5-7 furlongs so that they're always racing at a favored distance.
While favorite distance is important to PR, especially when campaigning G1 horses, you do not always need to race at it. Even if you don't know what it is, you're very likely hitting a horse's best or next-best distances if you've trained them according to their genetic bias. Race a horse at their home track as often as possible, and you'll still be able to be successful with or without seeing their exact favorite distance.
|Marathon & Steeplechase|
Marathon and Steeplechase are two different types of races that you can transition Thoroughbreds and Goldbloods for later in their life. This is not something to worry about if you're just beginning to play, but is something you'll want to explore later. Detailed information about this can be found in those respective sections of the Handbook, so we'll keep it brief here.
Marathon horses race at 14, 16, and 18 furlong distances on both surfaces. These races are for 4 year olds and up and can be found at the regular tracks.
Steeplechase horses race at 20, 22, and 24 furlong distances over jumps on turf in either the hurdle or timber division. These races are for 4 year olds and up and are held at special steeplechase tracks - which have longer courses designed with jumps.
|Driving is another type of race that Standardbreds are eligible for later in life. 4 year old and up Standardbreds can transition to driving and race over 2, 3, and 4 miles at STB tracks. All driving races are trot races. More information can be found in the relevant section of the handbook.|
|Introduction to Surface|
As with distance, all horses are born with a genetic bias for surface. This is based upon their Dirt and Turf genes. You can see these genes by purchasing Aptitude Genes, Genetic Ratings or a Genotype.
Surfaces are more straightforward than distance. A horse who is genetically Strong for a surface is predisposed to train easily on that surface. A horse who is genetically Low for a surface may struggle to become comfortable on that surface. A horse who is genetically Moderate may be able to learn a surface, but not quite as easily as a horse who is Strong.
A horse who is Strong for both surfaces is considered 'Dual' surface. These horses can easily learn to race on both surfaces and most of them will be trained using 'Alternating' options so that they can build up familiarity on both.
A horse who is Strong for one surface and Moderate for the other surface is considered 'Semi-Dual' surface. These horses still have some aptitude for training and racing on both surfaces, though it will take a little more effort. Many of these also use 'Alternating' training to open up a wider variety of race options.
A horse who is Moderate or Low for both surfaces is considered 'No Surface', as they have no real genetic bias for either. In these cases you'll want to train the horse for whichever gene is higher. If both are equal, pick whichever suits you and your stable best. They will also receive a penalty to their potential.
Horses lose surface familiarity at each monthly rollover at a rate based on their Surface Genes.
In the case of Standardbreds, they always race on the same surface. Instead of surface genes, they have genes for Pace and Trot preferences. These genes work exactly the same way as surface genes and will determine which type(s) of races you should aim them toward.
|Training & Racing|
Despite the guidelines above, you can train a horse to race on either surface. So long as a horse is trained on a surface, they will race successfully. However, just like Distance, a horse will lose Surface Proficiency faster for surfaces for which they do not have a genetic aptitude.
As noted above, you'll find an 'Alternating' option on the Exercise page. This will automatically train a horse for whichever surface is currently lower, making it easy to manage horses you wish to train, and race, on both surfaces. You should never race a horse on a surface they aren't trained for - doing so may cause injury and will lower Performance Rating (PR). A good rule of thumb is to ensure a horse is trained to 75% before racing them on a surface.