The Horse Race Game is a horse racing-themed board game available from BoardWalk Design. The game simulates horse track betting using play money, and the winner is the player with the most money at the end of the game. It is available for purchase online from Target, Amazon, ToysRUs and other retailers.
Setting up the Game
To set up the game, you start by placing all the horses along the starting line and dividing up the play money among all players. You should assign one player the role of dealer for each race. It is the dealer's responsibility to collect and pay out bets, as well as deal out the game cards to players.
The card deck consists of four cards for each of the eleven horses in play. However, when dealing the cards, it is very important that with a party of fewer than seven players, the deck must be cut in half. Do this before shuffling, so that you can remove exactly two of the four cards for each horse. In games with four players or fewer, cut the deck once again, so that only one card is in the deck for each horse. This is done to keep play fast-paced and exciting. In general, players should never have more than three or four cards at a time.
At the beginning of each race, the new dealer is the player seated to the current dealer’s left. You may wish to use some token to represent the current dealer, which players can pass to the left after each race.
Dealing the Cards
Before dealing out the cards, each player must pay the entry fee for the race. This is normally set to $1 in play money; however, it can be set to anything the players like. This money is set aside in the jackpot for collection by the winner.
The dealer opens the race by shuffling and dealing out all the cards still in play, faceup to the players. Ideally, after all the cards are dealt, each player should have only three or four cards. If some players have one more card than others, this is not a problem, as the extra card goes to different players after each race, and everyone has their turn to be the player with the extra card.
The Scratch Round
Just like in real races, a few horses drop out just before each race begins in the Horse Race Game. This is determined by the scratch round. Four players, starting with the player immediately to the left of the current dealer, roll the dice. The results that come up in these four rolls represent the horses that have dropped out of the race, before it even began. These horses are removed from the playing field, and any player with cards for those horses must surrender them.
If a player runs out of cards during the scratch round, she is out of the race and, as a penalty for her bad luck, is forced to pay the jackpot another $5 or five times the entry fee, whatever is highest.
The next person to the left of the last scratch roller rolls the dice next for the race. The horse in the lane identified by the result on the dice moves forward one space. The player then passes the dice to his left, so that the next player may roll.
In the unfortunate event that the roll is one of the scratched horses, the current roller must pay into the jackpot the amount listed for that horse in the scratch pile. For example, if the horse is in the “1x” scratch pile, the player must pay in $1. If the horse is in the “2x” scratch pile, the player must pay in $2.
Ending the Game
Play continues until a horse reaches the end of its lane. At this point, any players holding the card for that horse are declared the winners and split the jackpot evenly. The players may then begin the next race.
Amber D. Walker has been writing professionally since 1989. She has had essays published in "Fort Worth Weekly," "Starsong," "Paper Bag," "Living Buddhism" and more. Walker holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Texas and worked as an English teacher abroad for six years.