The Thoroughbred breed is unique in that much of the information about individual horses is readily available for free online with just a little bit of elbow grease on the part of the researcher. Thanks to the record keeping of the Jockey Club, multiple resources are available to make researching your OTTB’s racing history simple!
Looking up a tattoo: Thoroughbreds born prior to 2017 are tattooed on the inside of the upper lip for identification. If you don’t know a horse’s Jockey Club name but the horse is tattooed and the tattoo is entirely or mostly legible, you can look up the tattoo via the Jockey Club’s Registration website. You’ll just need a free user account.
Looking up a microchip: Thoroughbreds born in and after 2017 are microchipped if they headed to the track to train. Microchip readers are readily available for purchase, or ask your vet to scan for one. You can then look up the microchip number via the Jockey Club’s Registration website. (You can also register the microchip under your name!) Always make sure you scan a horse for an existing microchip before inserting another.
Finding the race record: Once you know your horse’s Jockey Club name, you can enter it at Equibase and access the horse’s full race record. You’ll be able to find sire/dam information, birthdate, race record and earnings, and detailed results of every race that horse ever ran. Click through to download the chart for each race and you’ll find a descriptive narrative of how the race played out, which can be useful for determining how your horse might have liked to run.
How to look up a horse’s workouts: Some horses might have had a timed workout but never run a race. There are a few “hacks” for finding workout histories, which only save on a horse’s immediate Equibase profile for 60 days. Finding a workout history can be particularly helpful when assessing if a horse is eligible for the Thoroughbred Makeover. Here’s one method:
- Search on Equibase for the horse in question. In the URL, you’ll see a series of numbers after “refno=” — that’s the individual horse’s Equibase reference number. Copy the series of numbers.
- Look up a horse on Equibase that is currently racing and has recent workouts (usually the most recent Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup Classic winner is a good bet!). Click to their Workouts tab.
- At the bottom of the list of recent workouts, you’ll see a button for “More Workouts.” Click that button.
- In the URL, replace the Equibase reference number with the copied reference number of the horse you’re researching and hit Enter. This should bring up a list of all timed workouts for that horse.
Finding the pedigree: Thoroughbred pedigrees are stored at Equineline, and it’s simple to pull up a five-generation pedigree in just a few clicks by entering either the horse’s Jockey Club name or his birth year and dam’s name. An Equineline pedigree is generally more accurate and reliable than user-created pedigree databases.
Purchasing win photos: If your horse won a race, then the track photographer most likely has his win photo available for purchase. Look up the racing photographer at the track at which your horse won — that information is typically listed on the track’s website. Be prepared to give the photographer the horse’s Jockey Club name, the date on which he ran, and the race number (this information is all available on Equibase). If your horse did not win, it is less likely that a photograph of him racing exists, but if he was in a photo finish with the winner or very close to the front of the pack, you may just find him there!
Reaching out to racing connections: You’ll likely have varying degrees of luck connecting with your horse’s former owner, breeder, trainer or jockey, but social media has made it easier than ever to locate and reach out to those connections. Again, you’ll want to refer to Equibase to find the names of the people from your horse’s racing days. Some connections will be eager to connect and welcome the chance to receive updates, while others may not be interested, which is all personal choice. Some breeders may be willing to share foal photos of your horse, so it’s always worth reaching out!