Go Racing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General questions

On Japanese racing

On betting




General questions

Q. When and where is racing held?
A. JRA racing is held on every Saturday and Sunday, with the exception of several national holidays. On a racing day, races are held at two - or, at times, three - racecourses, with at least one each from the eastern (Tokyo, Nakayama, Fukushima, Niigata) and western (Kyoto, Hanshin, Chukyo, Kokura) regions.

Please check the racing calendar to see where racing is held throughout the year.
Q. What time does the racecourse open and close?
A. The racecourse opens at 9:00 and close at 17:00. However, racecourses may decide to open the gates earlier for Grade 1 racing days.
Q. How can I find out when racing is held at a certain racecourse?
A. Please check the racing calendar to see where racing is held throughout the year.
Q. How many races are there in a day?
A. Normally, there are 12 races in one racing day, from 10:00 to around 16:30. However, there may be days with less races on a major (Grade 1) racing day (such as the Grade 1 Arima Kinen Grand Prix). Also, in the summer time, JRA holds "twilight racing" at Hokkaido and Kokura Racecourse, where races are run late into the afternoon (around 17:30).
Q. How many different types of seats are there at a racecourse?
A. There are two types - non-reserve (free) and reserve seats. Non-reserve seats are on a first-come-first-serve basis, and you can purchase reserve seat tickets at the ticket counter at the racecourse entrance.
Q. Where can I get a racing program?
A. You can get the racing programs (free of charge), which includes information on all runners for that day, at the Information Desk.
Q. Are there races during rain, snow or any other inclement weather?
A. If the weather forecast is for heavy snow or a typhoon, JRA will hold a meeting in the morning and decide whether racing will be held.

If a race meeting is canceled, JRA will postpone the scheduled races to an alternate day. Even if races are not canceled, if there is a significant amount of risk in damaging the turf course, JRA may change the race to the dirt course.

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On Japanese racing

Q. In which direction do the horses run (clockwise or counter-clockwise) ?
A. The racecourses that run counter-clockwise are Tokyo, Chukyo, and Niigata Racecourses. The other racecourses all run clockwise.
Q. How many Grade 1 races are there in a year?
A. There are 24 Grade 1 races (22 flat races, 2 steeplechase races) thoroughout the year, mainly concentrating in the spring and autumn. From mid-November, there is a stretch of four consecutive Grade 1 races, "Japan Autumn International" series. It is comprised of the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup, Mile Championship, Japan Cup and Japan Cup Dirt.
Q. In what order are the horses loaded into the gates?
A. Normally, horses are loaded into the gates in the following order :
1) Odd number barrier
2) Even number barrier
3) The outermost barrier (regardless of the odd-even barrier number)

Therefore, if there are 13 runners in a race, number 13 is loaded last, even though it is not in an even-number barrier.

However, there are exceptions, as horses that have difficulty entering the gates may be loaded first.
Q. Do the horses run every week?
A. JRA horses are not permitted to run in a race for 5 days after their previous outing. This rule makes it possible for runners to run in consevitve weekends. However, a normal horse would run about once every month. The trainer - checking the horse's condition and looking for the most appropriate conditions for the horse on the racing calendar - decides when to register for a race.
Q. Some jockeys have the same color caps and some have caps with two different colors. What do the colors signify?
A. When running in a race, horses are allocated to a "bracket," a grouping of one to three horses in a race (for example, horses in barrier No. 1 and 2 are "bracket No. 1," and barrier No. 14, 15 and 16 are "bracket No. 8"). This "bracket" system is a unique aspect of Japanese racing.

Each bracket is designated with a color (for example, bracket No. 1 is "white," No. 2 is "black," so forth), and the jockey's cap color is decided by the bracket number of the horse. This makes it easier for fans to locate their picks during the race, whether he/she is watching it on TV or from the grandstand.

Color of the jockey's cap

If there are nine runners in a race, bracket No. 8 will consist of two horses, while the remaining will have one horse each. If a race has 15 runners, all but bracket No.1 will have two horses each.

In addition, each owner has his/her racing color and jockeys are required to wear them in the race. Therefore, if two (or more) horses of the same owner are allocated in the same bracket in a race, JRA requires the jockey to wear a two-colored cap, in order for the viewers to identify and distinguish the horse with the same racing color.

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On betting

Q. Where can I purchase betting tickets?
A. You can purchase betting tickets at the 10 racecourses and the off-track betting facilities around the country.
Q. How old must you be to bet?
A. You must be 20-years old to bet. In the past, "students" who were older than 20-years old could no bet, but the laws have changed and, currently, anyone over 20-years old can purchase betting tickets.

Kids can enter the racecourse if they are accompanied by their parents. Anyone under the age of 15 can enter a racecourse for free-of-charge.
Q. What is the minimum bet?
A. With the exception of several WINS (off-track betting) facilities, minimum bet is 100 yen for all types of bets.
Q. When do ticket windows close sales for a race?
A. You can purchase tickets up until two minutes prior to post time, when the bell rings signaling the end of sales for that race.
Q. Can you ask for refunds on betting tickets after purchase?
A. No, we do not accept requests for refunds after the tickets have been purchased.
Q. How long are the tickets valid for payoff?
A. The payoff for a winning ticket is valid for 60 days.


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