Harness Racing Programs

Pferdesport/Traben: Ostermeeting in Bahrenfeld 2004
Bongarts/Getty Images / Getty Images

Harness racing is a version of horse racing where the horses pull a cart called a sulky and must compete at a specific trot or pace. These races, like most horse races, also feature a betting pool at most racetracks in the United States, which often times come with classic harness racing programs containing information about past performances, weather conditions, and betting odds.

Here is a quick guide to all the places you can find free harness racing programs with past performances online to download, plus where you can buy them for tracks that don't give them away free.

In the United States, harness races are limited to Standardbred horses, so if you’re in the mood for another great version of horse racing with thoroughbred horses, check out these, which also offer free programs.

Understanding Harness Racing Entries and Results

For fans of thoroughbred racing, the harness program will look quite familiar as it is laid out much like Equibase, BRIS, and DRF's past performance lines. Check out this sample from Trackmaster.

Some of the major differences between thoroughbred racing and this sample are: 99% of the races are one mile, so the distance is assumed to be a mile unless otherwise indicated, and the fractional times and positions will always be at the 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and finish. Workouts are not published but qualifiers are embedded in the PP's and charted as actual races. However, the goal in these no-money, no-betting events is to meet a standard time in order to be allowed to start in a paying race. The order of finish does not matter, just the final time for each horse.

The double dagger symbol ‡ may confuse as well. If the horse is a pacer then it means the horse paces without hopples. However, if the horse is a trotter then it means he/she races WITH hopples. Such a horse is in the minority as the vast majority of pacers do use the hopples while trotters rarely do.

How Harness Racing Works

In the United States, harness races involve a lot of strategies and a well-trained horse and rider because the competitors may need to be either quick out of the gate or well-paced and quick at the end, depending on the track size.

Racers typically form into two lines while on the track, one on the inside rail and one on the outside lane. Racers can implement a number of strategies including boxing in other horses or waiting in the pocket of the lead racer until his or her horse tires on the final quarter of the track.

The first half of competition is usually pretty uneventful as racers keep a steady and maintainable pace for the most part, but the action really takes off in the second half as racers come out of the slower pace and begin to compete for the lead position. Oftentimes referees have to take a photograph of the finish to gauge which horse crosses the finish line first.

Programs for Harness Racing

Check out these free sites, which each offer programs for a variety of different tracks:

These sites require a fee per card, but offer a bit more information:

  • BRISnet - paid service with harness racing past performances for just about every track for $1.50 per card.
  • Horse Racing Programs - $1 each for programs with past performances from Chicago area tracks, thoroughbred and harness.
  • TrackMaster - offers past performances that look just like the traditional track program for $1.50 each or enhanced pps with even more data and ratings for all tracks for $2.50 each.