Tom Lin is an intermediate player who currently leads three breeds in the claiming game – Arabians, Appaloosas, and Standardbreds trotters. In the latter two breeds, his leads are by huge margins.
I also notice Tom’s name a lot in races with small fields – in other words, he’s one that is quick to take advantage of opportunities with his horses.
So, I wanted to see what Tom has to say about his current stable and the SIM.
Q: According to your profile, you’re a 55ish man that lives in Ontario. Is there any other personal info you’d like to share?
I live in mid-western Ontario 2 hours north of Toronto on a small hobby farm with my wife, my white shepherd, three cats and a small flock of Milles Fleurs d'Uccles (exotic poultry).
Q: What is your background in racing? I’d assume you love the Standardbreds, since roughly half of your 900+ horses are trotters.
I have been a fan of harness racing as long as I can remember. My family has owned a couple horses over the years. I also worked in the industry for a few years after high school. During that time I cared for a horse that actually raced against the great Niatross.
Q: How did you find out about the SIM, and what made you want to try it?
I found about the SIM from a tweet on Twitter from someone who played. I honestly didn't know that games like this existed. I checked it out and it seemed really involved and I like to be challenged. It seemed like a great fit for me.
Q: We don’t have access to the claiming game results from last season. How did you do?
I finished first in the Appy and Trotter categories, fourth or fifth overall.
Q: You currently have some pretty incredible leads in this year’s claiming game for trotters and Appaloosas; plus, you also have a solid lead in Arabians. Did you go into this year with the claiming game as a primary goal?
I don't think I've done anything in my play as a goal towards the claiming game. I just try to place my horses where they can succeed and I have mostly claiming types.
Q: Where do you find most of your horses, and how do you choose one over another?
In the beginning, probably like a lot of new players, wherever and whenever. Buy! Buy! Buy! As long as they were cheap. But seriously, most were AJ sales (I was online most nights at 3 a.m. ready to pounce), the sales board and a little claiming.
Presently, most of my newer horses are ones that I bred, plus the occasional auction or private purchase, and some selective claims.
As for how I choose what to buy I only really have two basic criteria:
Can I reasonably expect to make money and show a profit with this horse? or does this horse suit my breeding program? I love horses that are "Yes" to both.
Q: Do you expect to be a strong force in the claiming game in coming years?
I don't know if I expect to be. Like most players, I'm always trying to upgrade my stock and I expect to have a lot of new homebreds added to the racing barn each year. I'm sure there will always be claiming types among them, and not all stakes and ALW types.
Q: I notice that if, for example, I sponsor a race that's not likely to attract many entrants, you often enter a horse. Are you always race shopping for easy spots?
I try to make money with every horse. Some horses' only chance is to find spots. It isn't as easy as it used to be, but I generally check all races a few days out for light fields for some horses.
Q: On an average day, how much time do you spend playing SIM?
During the week 1-2 hours/day. During the weekend 5-6 hours total. I work evenings, so I schedule the SIM after work when the house is quiet.
Q: Do you have specific long and short term goals in SIM?
My short term goal is simply to improve the overall quality of my horses.
My long term goal is to develop a "formidable" breeding operation with quality mares and to breed a stallion that has an impact on the SIM.
Q: Last season, you bred just two Arabian foals yourself. Both galloped scary as yearlings, which is pretty remarkable. What are your future plans for the breed?
My ultimate future plan would be to have a balanced number of horses across all the mixed breeds, but in the short term to become gradually more involved in breeding.
Q: This will be your fourth year of breeding your own horses. How do you feel about the development of your homebreds, and do you think there’s any particular lessons you’ve learned during this time?
I know there has been a lot of discussion regarding wows/scaries and future results vs. expectations. A particular lesson that always comes to mind is managing expectations, and that the gallop comments are comments only as to a horse's potential. Potential that may or may not be realized.
As far as the development of my breeding program, I've seen improvement each year. In terms of gallop comments the scaries have increased from 3 to 9 to 18 in the first three crops. The improvement also is beginning to translate to the racing side where my horses are able to race in more non-claiming type races. I bred my first stake winner out of the first crop.
Q: What is the best horse you’ve owned?
It's a pair of horses that are inter-twined. Sin of Naivety and Tls Innocent Girl.
Sin of Naivety is a star broodmare that was an AJ purchase. Her first three foals galloped scary and she produced Tls Innocent Girl.
Tls Innocent Girl gave me my first home bred stakes win at two and has since followed that up with another stake win at 3.
Q: What are you most excited about for the future?
Hopefully breeding and racing a Stewards Cup winner! Mostly watching my horses improve.
Q: If you could start over in SIM, what would you do differently?
Not a lot actually. Sure it would've been nice to not make some of the newbie mistakes, but you learn and move on. Although I'm not heavily invested in t-breds now I should have taken advantage of Trial Park more. I started racing mostly standardbreds, which at the time were more competitive than the horses I had to face at Trial Park towards the end of my New Player status.
Q: What advice would you give to a new player starting out in SIM?
Play the SIM the way you want to. Learn as much as you can. Set goals. Take joy in your successes no matter how small. Play for yourself, not others, and have fun!
Q: What’s the top things on your wish list for SIM’s continuing evolution?
Hmmm. That's a big question. I have a bunch of wishes but I don't know if they would be well received by some of the veterans. My general wish would be that the SIM would evolve so that it retains the complicated nature of the game while providing a more realistic economic model. A new player can't help but feel that the economic gap between themselves and vets is daunting. Horses should be able to race for what they are worth and horses should actually cost what they are worth.
Here’s wishing Tom continued success!