As a preface, I love this game. I think the community is great, the interactions are fun, and the racing aspect is at quite realistic. The racing fan who also fancies computer games will be delighted by 'the SIM.'
However, there's a part of the game which I think is unfair and deterrent to new and smaller players: the purse structure.
Your promising 2-year-old has just won her debut race at The Spa. She galloped 'stakes' last year, and you - being a player with a small operation - were jubilant. Her workouts showed she was on the top level among stakes gallopers - probably just below the 'freak' designation. So as the more senior trainers clap you on the back and you sip your beer on the backstretch after winning a race at America's greatest racecourse, you open your cheque and marvel at your... $12,500?
The next night, the 5-year-old gelding you claimed for $25,000 two weeks ago chases down the leader late in the stretch and you jump for joy and brush back your hair for the camera. You knew he'd been claimed right back, as the announcer proclaimed in the post parade, but that was okay. It was a smart business transaction. You could probably buy another talented equine, you thought, with the profit of... $6,000?
No, you can't.
The real Spa - Saratoga Racecourse - will be running a maiden special weight event for 2-year-old fillies in its third race on Sunday for $90,000. $90,000! Correcting the purse split to the harness-based percentages we use, the owner of the victor there will receive $45,000 - 3.6 times what the SIM owner will.
A contest for the same age and sex of horses will be Hastings Park's third race on Sunday - that race will be contested for $25,000, the same purse as that of the SIM. Hastings is a bottom-level track in Canada, and it houses animals that may well be a different species to those boarded at Saratoga. Yet the owner of a winner at The Spa will receive the same money as the owner of one at real-life Hastings Park.
Mustang Park - the SIM's Hastings - paid out $7,500 to a 2-year-old filly who broke her maiden on W7 D1 of this year. This presents two issues. Firstly, Mustang Park is offering only 60% of the purse its real-life counterpart does. Secondly, Mustang Park's winner will only get $5,000 - 40% - less than at the most renowned track on the continent for the same division of horses!
I will offer one final example, which I eluded to earlier. Let's examine Monmouth's second race on Sunday. It's a $20,000 claimer for 3-year-olds and up who haven't won three races. The purse is $26,000. With some deft calculator work, one can conclude that the turnaround on a claimed horse who wins and is then claimed back (assuming the NW4 is worth the same) is a tidy $13,000. That's double the profit made by a SIM player, even with slightly cheaper horses in this instance.
I think, by now, you get where I'm going with this.
Checking your day's results, discovering you had three horses hit the board, and having $6,600 to show for it is a demoralizing process. Even with a stakes winner like Keystrokes (link below) in your barn - or even multiple of them - it's hard to stay afloat. To work up to a breeding to a top pacing sire like Catalyst with pacers themselves - which also have issues of their own - would take at least 11 victories in open or conditioned 'allowance' races! In reality, it should take around five. More affordable options are practically useless, as an 'allowance' pacer will often struggle to cash a cheque against even cheap claiming company. Those deemed lesser than that may as well be sent to Ms. Jaysman as a reflex. My 'stakes' filly Addicted Gambler (link below) can't even pay for her upkeep and shipping.
It feels like you're treading water instead of engaging in an exciting racing game.
I'm not saying purses should be increased across the board. In fact, I believe the money awarded to cheap claimers in Alaska is more than fair. However, a horse that won a race for the same type of horse at The Spa needs to be rewarded more than one that crossed the line first at Mustang Park. Furthermore, a horse at Mustang Park should be paid as much as one at Hastings. Wins are hard to come by, especially for the smaller player who can't afford to 'visit the Doctor,' which seemed to be a favourite phrase of the SIM chatroom before he was pensioned. Therefore, the player can't be disappointed when they actually do score that victory.
It may not be a problem to the top SIMsters who have spent years getting their stable to the top and earning millions of dollars, but to the casual, who is admittedly writing a lengthy story right now and may not be as casual as he thinks, it's frustrating. If you don't have hundreds of hours to spend, it's practically impossible to compete. And that's disappointing.
For disclosure, I'm not a troll taking a pot shot for no reason. I'm someone who loves this game and is upset that I can't enjoy it as much as I'd like. I like the game enough to be a SIMperior member, and I care about it enough to write a ~900 word story on why I think it should change. So please, take my comments as constructive.
Links, as promised:
Addicted Gambler: https://www.simhorseracing.com/horse.php?HorseID=1019409