Horse racing is a sport that translates well to board games. These are our picks for the best horse-racing board games.
Winner’s Circle/Royal Turf
- For 2 to 6 players (best with 4 to 6 players), ages 8 and up. Designed by Reiner Knizia, published by Face 2 Face Games.
Seven horses are racing in this game, originally published as Royal Turf by Rio Grande Games and Alea and later republished as Winner’s Circle. Players secretly place bets on the horses at the beginning of the game (the goal is to earn the most money), evaluating each horse’s ability and its starting position to decide which has the best chance to win. Once the race begins, players roll a die and choose which horse advance based on the resulting symbol. Each space on the track can only hold one horse, so choosing wisely is the key to victory. Winner’s Circle is a quick (less than 60 minutes) and clever game.
- For 3 to 8 players, ages 8 and up. Designed by Chris Handy, published by Z-Man Games/Kosmos.
In this betting game, 10 horses are available, each with a special ability. On a turn, you roll two dice. One determines which horse moves; the other determines how far (0, 1 or 3 spaces). You also check the cards for the horses you own, and if the horse number you rolled is shown there, your horse also advances. (Owning a horse makes that horse move a little faster.) Then you have the option of buying a horse, placing a bet, or playing a card. When three horses cross the finish line, the game ends and payouts are made. Long Shot is a light strategy game, perfect for a family game night or a relaxing time with good friends.
Win, Place and Show
- For 3 to 6 players, ages 8 and up. Designed by John B. Reilly and Thomas M. Divoll, published by Avalon Hill.
Originally published in 1966 as part of the 3M sports game line, Win, Place and Show was the first modern horse-racing board game. Players first bet on the horses—each of which has unique characteristics—and then bid to control the jockeys for those horses. Dice rolls play a part in determining the outcome, but there is plenty of opportunity for strategy use with lane changes, blocking, etc. In a review on BoardGameGeek.com, Larry Levy described Win, Place and Show as “a game that works on many levels; there are elements that can satisfy the race fan, the gambler, and the serious gamer. Most of all, it is a superb family game.”
- For 2 to 8 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Albrecht Nolte, published by AZA Spiele.
The emphasis here is on the race, not the wagering. Jockeys compete to have their horses in the best position for a strong run down the stretch; most games are very close at the end. A deluxe edition of TurfMaster is also available.
Really Nasty Horse Racing Game
- For 2 to 6 players, ages 10 and up. Designed by Simon Knock, published by Upstarts.
Players each have a stable of six horses, to be used in six different races. Wagers are placed on the horses before each race, and then the racing begins. So why is it “really nasty”? Event cards that let you accuse other horses of using steroids, knock horses out of a race, etc. Great fun in the beer-and-pretzels sense.
You can buy any of these games to play horse racing board games.