Photo Finish Live: Investment Thesis

Horse Racing Capital
9 min readNov 14, 2022



Your heart is in your throat as the 20 to 1 longshot racehorse, Attila The Honey you just bet $20 on exits the starting gate along with nine other powerful thoroughbreds. You’ve done your research on the lightly raced 3 year old colt with quality pedigree that prefers firm dirt tracks but has been unlucky to only race in the slop so far. You believe the wet conditions have adversely affected Attila and are looking for a breakout performance on what promises to be a lightning quick track. Additionally, when scrolling through Attila’s pedigree you noticed his sire, Attila the Money, had prolific stamina and excelled in longer races. Despite this, Attila has not gone past 6 furlongs in his young career and you think it wise his trainer elected to stretch him out to 12f with this race. Your horse is two lengths back of the leader as they make the final turn and you scream at the top of your lungs, “Let’s fucking go” while splashing a little of your mint julep onto the ground. Your hands begin to tremble as the jockey pushes the horse hard to the inside and makes his move. Half a length back with less than 50 yards to go and that stamina you were counting on kicks in…you can almost feel the pounding of hooves as the horses roar across the finish line and… it’s a PHOTO FINISH! You’ve won by a nose and are now $400 richer. HELL YES!

You pull on your pants, gloat a little on Discord, then head downstairs to put a fat ribeye on the BBQ to celebrate. As you grill and sip your mint julep you think to yourself, “Damn, it’s time I use my winnings to buy my own virtual race horse. I could one day be a top race horse stable manager in the metaverse and earn millions”.

In the past this wasn’t viable in any meaningful way but thanks to a new horse racing and wagering ecosystem, that has changed. A historically elite, expensive sport is now available to the masses thanks to the advent of crypto-based virtual horse racing.

Virtual race horses from Photo Finish Live


We have long held the belief that one of the biggest and most sustainable cryptocurrency applications would be a properly designed and implemented horse racing game with built-in, legally compliant wagering.

Our research indicates the total addressable market of such an ecosystem is in the $5–25 billion range. Madden football earns over $1 billion per year from micro-transactions and sales and there are approximately 184 million football fans. EA Sports makes around $5 billion per year from FIFA soccer and there are approximately 3 billion fans worldwide. Neither game has a wagering component. Comparatively, there are almost 600 million horse racing fans and the corresponding wagering industry sees upwards of $80–$150 billion spent globally per year.

Fans love to play video games of their favorite sport. Soccer fans love to play FIFA soccer, NFL fans love Madden, but horse racing fans haven’t had a great horse racing game they could play and use for wagering. We believe that is about to change thanks to a team led by the former Director of Madden football.

Horse racing fans currently play on poorly implemented mobile and browser games and legacy wagering systems like this:

Imagine the potential of a platform-agnostic, hyper-realistic horse racing ecosystem where users own (via NFTs) the racehorses and breed them via an advanced, true to life genetics engine and there’s built-in wagering that accepts cryptocurrency and fiat. We’ve been imagining this for years and were excited to try early incarnations like Zed Run and Derace but unfortunately, though good games, neither featured the realism, depth, nor sustainability we sought.

Enter Photo Finish Live (PFL), a horse racing game created by experienced developers from EA Sports, Zynga, and Fan Duel who also built two successful horse racing games in the past. A team who recently announced that Photo Finish Live is now the official game of the Kentucky Derby and will host the virtual Kentucky Derby after partnering with the multi-billion dollar publicly traded company, Churchill Downs.

Photo Finish Live checks off everything we’re looking for:

  • Fun
  • Hyper-realistic graphics
  • User owned racehorses via NFTs
  • Advanced, true to life genetics and breeding engine
  • Built in wagering
  • Adherence to gambling laws
  • Easy onboarding with fiat (credit cards) and cryptocurrency
  • Highly strategic with no single “right way” to play
  • Horses must retire from racing to breed and have a lifespan
  • Team of highly experienced developers and executives that love horse racing
  • Excellent tokenomics
  • Mobile ready
  • Responsive, community-centric developers
  • Well-funded by excellent investors
  • Key partnerships validating the vision
  • A strong foundational community of passionate players who love the game

We believe Photo Finish Live is the virtual horse racing game we’ve been waiting years for.

Photo Finish is much more than a racing and gambling platform. People who own at least one of the original NFTs become members of the exclusive Photo Finish Jockey Club, PFL’s DAO, which plans to purchase real life race horses. An ecosystem like this will create new value, working in partnership with the existing horse racing industry, rather than in direct competition. It will also work to bring in new fans and owners who otherwise would have never accessed the sport.

How To Passively Invest In Photo Finish Live

Photo Finish Live began with the release of the 10,000 Stylish Stud NFT collection and was followed by 5,000 Fine Fillies (now Marvelous Mares) on the Solana blockchain. The PFP’s were then bred (it was intricate and extremely well planned) to create the Gen 0 race horse tickets of which there are 4,362. Those initial 15,000 Stylish Studs and Marvelous Mares became the Photo Finish PFP Collection which you can find here. While those 15,000 NFTs cannot race in the game, they are a fantastic way to passively invest in Photo Finish as holders can stake them here for $CROWN, the utility token of Photo Finish. $CROWN’s tokenomics are excellent and written about in-depth in this article. In short, once the game exits beta, you will be able to stake $CROWN on the various in-game race tracks and receive a cut of that track’s revenue. A utility token that earns a cut of revenue from what we believe is the next big game franchise and global wagering platform is a dream come true.

The amount of $CROWN you receive depends upon the rarity of the PFP NFT. Yes, sweeping the floor is a strategy, but there are more efficient ways to accumulate $CROWN. Thankfully, key metrics on available PFP’s, such as CROWN PER SOL (CPS), are at your fingertips. If you have questions about the NFT’s or $CROWN, be sure to join the Photo Finish Live Discord server.

How To Invest In Virtual Race Horses

If you want to race and breed racehorses, then you’ll want race horse tickets. Each horse has a Grade (D- to SSS with SSS being best), attributes, and preferences. D horses are the weakest and will rarely beat a C horse. C horses will only occasionally beat a B and that B will rarely beat an A horse. And yes, A horses must be very strong to beat an S grade horse. The launch of the game will see only B- to S+ horses in existence meaning the best horses in the game will be bred in the future.

In addition to grades, each Gen 0 horse ticket will have various attributes (often called stats) with a score of 0 being the lowest and 3 being the highest. Those attributes are:

Start: Start is the speed at which the horse leaves the gate. It’s the most powerful stat at 4 furlongs, but quickly drops off in longer races. Furlongs are the traditional unit of measurement in horse racing (1F equals ⅛ of a mile). Races are run between 4 and 12 furlongs. In a 4f race, you want to race a horse that has a high start attribute.

Speed: the pace of the horse once it gets into its stride. Speed is most pronounced in short and middle distances, but drops off when races get long.

Stamina: the horse’s ability to keep running as it tires. The longer the race the more important stamina is.

Finish: the horse’s ability to push for the finish line after a hard effort. It is the strongest stat at 12 furlongs, but doesn’t become important until the longest distances.

Heart: the horse’s competitive spirit. The closer a horse is running to a competitor, the more influential the heart stat is. Heart is most beneficial in longer races with large and competitive fields. larger fields and in fields where other competitors are a similar strength.

Temper: the horse’s ability to focus and put effort into the race. Temper can be seen as consistency. Horse’s with strong temper are more likely to perform up to their potential over the course of a career.

Are you starting to see the intricacies of this game? Well, that’s just the beginning because each horse has track “preferences” as well. These are:

Surface: There are two types of surface in Photo Finish Live, Dirt and Turf. Horses that aren’t suited to the surface of the race course receive a penalty.

Direction: There are two race directions in Photo Finish Live, Right and Left. Horses that aren’t suited to the direction of the race course receive a penalty.

Condition: There are two primary track conditions in Photo Finish Live, Firm and Soft. Horses that aren’t suited to the condition of the race course receive a penalty.

Put all of this together and you may have a Gen 0 horse racing ticket that looks like this:

The above horse’s grade is A-, it’s a male (Colt), its total “boosts”, all the attributes and preferences added together, is 19.5 (out of a max 26) and it has strong start, stamina, and finish statistics. If this was our horse, we’d work to enter it in races we didn’t think any S grade horses would enter (unless they were handicapped), races that were 10–12 furlongs long (due to high stamina and finish) and we would make sure to enter it in a right turning, turf track with firm race conditions.

The higher the horse’s grade and the more total boosts, the more expensive it will tend to be. So which specific horse(s) to purchase will depend upon your budget, risk tolerance, ego, and more. Keep in mind, the game is designed in a manner where any grade horse can be profitable if you are smart about how you manage it. Yes, the stakes for S horses will be higher but good players will still see a solid ROI with lower grade horses and the very best will be able to breed up and race in higher grade races.

Fillies Versus Colts

Colts are male horses and fillies are female. When it comes to racing, they are equal. The big difference is in breeding. Colts, once retired, can breed 35 times per Photo Finish Season (and be paid for the service) whereas fillies can only breed once per season. However, fillies keep the foal so a single filly can result in upwards of 20 new horses before she dies. Horses can race at age 2, must retire by age 8, and live into their early 20’s and then die.

Buying a Racehorse

Now it’s time to search for horses with stats that fit within your budget. While the horses are for sale on Magic Eden, we strongly recommend that you use this tool to help you figure out the horse you want. And as always, the community is happy to help you with the selection of a race horse as we understand there’s a learning curve and we want you to be competitive. Simply join Discord and ask for help.


Photo Finish Live is currently in beta 2 with the world wide release set for the end of April, 2023. More than 25 of their virtual race horses have seen purchase prices in excess of $10,000 showcasing that the community sees great potential in the game. The highly experienced team is hyper-focused on creating a sustainable, ever-improving game that will be the Madden Football and FIFA Soccer of horse racing but also have built in wagering. Add in the excellent tokenomics and just plain enjoyable experience of playing this game and we believe the flywheel is set to start.


Not financial advice. The authors of this article own Photo Finish Live Race Horses and/or PFPs. Please do your own research.