SteveMRyan's Blog

May 19, 2016

2015 Kentucky Derby – APBA Saddle Racing Board Game

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 8:49 pm

Played in my APBA Man Cave at home!

Being a member of the APBA Community has its benefits.  This year has seen the release of a 2015 Triple Crown set of Saddle Racing Cards.  I was fortunate to receive these cards and ran a replay of the 2015 Kentucky Derby.  I posted move-by-move updates on the Delphi Forums – APBA Between the Lines – 2015 Triple Crown Card thread created by the creator of the cards, Doug W Reese.  Mr Reese was immortalized at the website Jim’s APBA Barn with an APBA’view:

I will post an abbreviated recap of my updates here.  Some of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on the pictures and I realize some of the numbers are a bit small and hard to read.  Read blow:

2015 Kentucky Derby Move One

2015 Kentucky Derby Move One

The Goal of the first few moves is to try and get the horses positioned toward the front of the pack and in one of the first three lanes.  Once a horse enters the turns moves points cost more.  I discovered an error in the reference column for Dortmund and corrected that before I had posted the initial sheet.  Also, there were 20+ horses entered in the 2015 Kentucky Derby but the game works best with races of ten horses or less.  I used the top ten finishers and moved the gate slots up accordingly.  (Example:  American Pharoah actually started in the 18th Gate Post but started in the tenth Gate Post in my race.)

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Two

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Two

The Race is ten furlongs, a mile and a quarter, and the horses start entering the first turn in the 3rd furlong.  Each furlong is eight spaces and each move is usually between six to nine moves.  Unused moves can be saved and ‘spent’ later in the race, so move may be more as the race advances.

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Three

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Three

Usually by the third move the race starts developing a personality.  Some horses are moving up and others are trapped in the pack.  Other horses are clogging up the pack because they aren’t able to store move points for future use.

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Four

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Four

Move Four Saddle Racing Board

Move Four Saddle Racing Board

As you can see American Pharoah is surging ahead and there are several horses nipping at his heels.  The other seven horses are moving in a pack just a few spaces off the pace.  The colors of the game pieces match the colors on the game scoresheet as well as I was able to match them.

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Five

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Five

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture Move Five

As pictured above, the leaders appear to be pulling away and the herd seems to be opening up a little bit.

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Six

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Six

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture Move Six

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture Move Six

I took the pictures with my iPhone and saved them to my DropBox Folder.  The Scoresheet files are printed to file using Microsoft OneNote as my default printer.  I then save the file as a .png file also to DropBox.

Notice a bit of a re-positioning among the leaders.

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Seven

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Seven

APBA Saddle Racing Picture Move Seven

APBA Saddle Racing Picture Move Seven

I’m not sure if turns in horse racing are considered back-to-back like NASCAR but I will just refer to these curves as the final turn but if may be proper to refer to the turns as the third and fourth turns.  Either way, the pack is breaking up a bit more the some of the horses are in position to make moves toward the front.  If I recall, some of the horses got some poor rolls at this point.

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Eight

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Eight

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture Move Eight

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture Move Eight

Looks like some hi-jinks between the leaders coming out of the final turn!  Looks like we will have an exciting final stretch.

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Nine

2015 Kentucky Derby Move Nine

APBA Saddle Racing Board Game Move Nine

APBA Saddle Racing Board Game Move Nine

It would appear the leaders are coming back to the pack, but actually one of the leaders rolled the worst possible result on the card short of the jockey getting tossed.  Some of the trailing horses were also able to get in position to use some of their saved move points.  The Stretch Run is always exciting!

2015 Kentucky Derby Final Race Results

2015 Kentucky Derby Final Race Results

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture Move Ten - Finish Line!

APBA Saddle Racing Board Picture Move Ten – Finish Line!

(The summary is from my post on the Delphi Forums)

The Official Race Results:

Win:  American Pharoah – 2:03

Place:  Firing Line – 2:04

Show:  Danzig Moon – 2:04 1/5

Dortmund – 2:04 4/5

Frosted – 2:05 2/5

Keen Ice – 2:08 2/5

Mubtaahij – 2:09

Itsaknockout – 2:09 1/5

Materiality – 2:10 1/5

Carpe Diem 2:12 1/5

This is an incredible game.  Like several of the APBA family of games, it can be a bit heavy on the arithmetic, but nothing a 5th grader probably couldn’t do in their head.  Fractions and some decimals are handled in a manner that simple adding and subtracting does it all with out any of that annoying Least Common Denominator stuff.  Don’t let that discourage anyone from playing this game.  Just have a few pieces of scratch paper handy.

The board is fairly large so I used the handy BallRoller v 1.0.4 from Ballstat for my dice rolls.  Two screens has been helpful with posting turn-by-turn updates.  I did a google search for ‘APBA Saddle Racing Scoresheet Excel’ and found this handy scoresheet.  The colors had to be adjusted to match the game pieces but it works well.

As for game play, the instructions are pretty straight forward.  After the initial turn which uses gate position to determine order, I just roll for the horses from the leading inside space toward the horses on the outside then toward the back of the pack.  I make an effort to get all of the horses in the first three lanes going into the initial turn because the move points are less toward the rail.  Every now and then I found a horse in a position the necessitated a move away from the rail but I try to avoid this until the stretch.  All whole-number move points have to be used before the end of the last move to planning for this helps avoid wasted sideways moves in the last turn for a horse.

I found plenty of race results from when I was fortunate to have a job that allowed playing this game while getting paid.  Saddle Racing is a lot like riding a bike.  I reread the instructions to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.  The game came back to me fairly quickly and was as much fun as I remembered.  I highly recommend finding a copy on eBay or contacting the APBA Game Co. to express an interest in a new release of the game. – Steve



  1. BRAVO!!!!! GREAT presentation

    Comment by Bill Lilley — May 22, 2016 @ 11:07 pm

  2. I dug this!

    Comment by KT — December 1, 2017 @ 12:36 am

  3. Enjoyed it, Steve! I use a very modified version of Win, Place, Show based in part on Bruno Cross’s charts of famous race horses. I took what I wanted from it and discarded the rest (including the WPS cards). I created homemade dice with perm marker, using 5 numerical values on a d6 die, as, for example, the numbers 5-6-7-7-8-9. Seven, the median number given for, say, Secretariat’s 4th furlong, is the median number on my 4th furlong die for Big Red. Thus, in rolling the die for that furlong, the player owning him is most likely to roll a seven, but the other numbers create the suspense by keeping the roll from being predictable. And thus the race proceeds furlong by furlong, but with differing numerical values possible on the individual die matching each of the separate furlongs for each respective horse. Typically, six great horses run per race, such as Native Dancer, Man o’ War, Kelso, Whirlaway, etc., each horse having its own individual dice set created for 10 and 12 furlongs. Yes, a lotta work on my part!

    What I haven’t figured out yet, and am all ears for you, Steve, or anyone else wanting to lend some advice, is how to put pacing strategy into the game. I’d want each player to act as jockey for each competing horse and to enable tough decisions like how long to hold your horse back, when to turn him loose, etc., the kinds of decisions a jockey must make in order not to burn his horse out too early or hold him back too long. Of course, the kinds of dice rolls you’re getting as the game progresses will influence much of that. Adding pacing strategy decisions for each player would add a great element of gamesmanship here, but I’m not sure how to do it realistically or efficiently and without complicating the game too much. Any ideas, I’d enjoy hearing. Besides my knowledge of racing is limited as I do not like the sport, only the dice game, much as J. Henry Waugh in Robert Coover’s book “The Universal Baseball Association” said about baseball.

    Comment by Mike Whitney — May 12, 2018 @ 8:16 pm

    • The APBA Saddle Racing boards seem to handle that fairly well. You can ‘store’ move points and the strategy dictates how well that works. Since it’s a dice game, all you can do is make decisions that give your horse the best chance to win and the card also provides the horse with the greatest probability, but when all is said and done the dice play a big part in determining the outcome.

      Comment by stevemryan — May 13, 2018 @ 1:16 am

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