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Using Backyard Bookie for Your Horse Racing Party

Trial Download | Race Day Tips | Troubleshooting

Backyard Bookie is a simple program that can add fun and excitement to your horse racing party.  Below are some step-by-step instructions for getting yourself started on race day, followed by some hints on how best to organize your betting pool.   For more information, look at the Help documentation that comes along with the product download where there is a much more detailed explanation of all of Backyard Bookie’s functions.

BIG Hint!!! – Try it before you buy it!

Every computer system is different and strange things sometime happen with Internet transactions.  To assure that you will have a working program before you spend your money, download our trial version of the software from our Trial Download page and follow the instructions to install the product.  The "trial product" is exactly like the purchased product, but doesn’t operate fully without a purchased "Registration ID".

In order to test the product, there are two files that come with the installation package that you can play around with.  When opening the program, choose "More files…". Navigate to the "C:\Program Files\Backyard Bookie" directory, and open one of the two sample files that come with the installation package.  The sample file "with bets" already has a large number of bets places for all six races in the file and can be used to test out all of the features except adding new bets.  The sample file "without bets" has no bets and may be used to practice adding new.


 Step 1 – Purchase Backyard Bookie and Install

Go to our order page and purchase Backyard Bookie.  You will be asked for your name, address, e-mail, and a credit card number to charge your purchase. After the purchase, you will get a confirmation e-mail of your order with a 13-digit "Registration ID" within the body of the e-mail.  SAVE THIS NUMBER.  It is your identification number as a licensed owner of Backyard Bookie and you will need it to make Backyard Bookie fully functional.

Note:  From your purchase transaction, you will receive a download of the Backyard Bookie install package.  If you have already installed Backyard Bookie on your computer by using our Trial Download page, it is not necessary to re-install this new package (as it is the same as the "trial" package).   Once you enter your Registration ID, your trial version will be fully functional.

If you have not already installed the software, then download the product from the purchase link, save it to your C: drive, and follow the instructions below:

  • At the WINDOWS desktop, Click START on the taskbar.
  • Click the RUN entry within the pop-up window.
  • Click the BROWSE button to locate the BackyardBookieZip.exe or the BackyardBookieTEZip.exe  file that you downloaded from your purchase.
  • Click the OK button.
  • The WinZip Self-Extractor dialog box will appear, Click the SETUP button.
  • The Backyard Bookie setup screen will appear, Click the OK button.
  • Select a target installation directory.  The default target installation directory is C:\Program Files\BackyardBookie\ (or BackyardBookieTE\). The BROWSE button gives you the option to select a different installation directory.
  • After the desired installation directory is selected, Click the INSTALLATION icon. (The icon is located in the upper left-hand corner.)
  • Click the OK button.

Step 2 – Open Backyard Bookie

Assuming you followed the instructions for installation, click on Start, Programs, then "Backyard Bookie" or "Backyard Bookie - Thoroughbred Edition".

Step 3 – Enter the Registration ID

When you first start up the program, you will be asked to enter the Registration ID that you received with your purchase.  Once you enter a valid Registration ID on your computer, you will not need to enter it again, unless you reinstall the software or have system problems.  If you have not yet purchased Backyard Bookie, simply click on "Continue w/out Registration".

 Step 4 – Download the Race Card file

For Triple Crown races and Breeder's Cup, MicroFest provides pre-set race card files available on the morning of the races.  (Note that for some events you can download a race card with the main race only a few days earlier, within a day after the field is set.  Check our home page for details of upcoming race cards.) 

When the program starts up, you will be presented with a list of options for opening files. Choose "Download Race Card from"  When the Download window appears, choose the desired race card, for example "Thoroughbreds The Kentucky Derby (Derby Only)".   You will get a confirmation message when the download is completed successfully.

Note that if you already have the program running and a file open, you will not be given an option to download the race card.  You must first do a File / Close operation, then you can go to Tools / Download Race Card from

Last year's file will be available for trial purposes until this year's file is ready.  Please make sure that the file that you downloaded is for the current year.  The race card for the Derby or other supported race is not set until a couple of days prior to the race, and it takes a few hours for us to get the download file out on our site.  The full day race card does not become available until the night before the race.

Step 5 – Set up the Race Card to Your Liking

Click on the drawing of the race day program (or choose Edit / Setup Race Card).  There are five tabs on the Race Card window.  The important things for you to look at are:

  • General Tab:  Decide if you want to print tickets or not automatically.  (Also, if you choose to print tickets, you might want to choose to not enter the names of the bettors in the system.  If so, click on "Default Bettor to Not Specified").
  • Race Setup Tab:  For each race that you wish to take bets on, decide which types of bets you want to use, how you wish to round out the payouts, whether or not there will be anything held out from the pot.  Set the "quick bet" amounts along the bottom to dollar values that you think will be most used by your bettors.  Hint:  If you are taking bets on the full race day, you can set the "Race Defaults" to how you like them, then go to each race through the "Race Setup" tab and click the "Reset to defaults" to set each race with the same betting rules as the default settings.
  • Backup/Restore Tab:  We recommend that you turn the "Recovery File" on, so that in the event that your computer goes down or you close your file without saving, you might be able to salvage bets that were recently made.   Also, be sure that the program is set to remind you every 10 bets or so to save the file to disk.

Step 6 – Start taking Bets!

Click on the betting window, or using the Edit / Betting Window menu option, puts you at the start of a betting window transaction.  You can choose to start a new ticket, cash a ticket or edit an old ticket.  Each ticket is for one bettor and for one race only, but within one betting window transaction you can create one or more new tickets and either cash or edit old tickets.  When you are ready to settle up with the bettor, click on "Finish Transaction".

Step 7 – Display the Current Odds

Click on View / Display Odds to see the current odds for your party.  Note that since the odds in Backyard Bookie are set based on the bets placed at your party, they will likely look odd until a good number of bets are placed.

Step 8 – Enter the Results

When the race is over, go to Edit / Record Race Results and indicate which horses came in first, second, and third.  The payouts window will be displayed once you save the results by clicking OK.

Step 9 – Payout Bets to Bettors

The easiest way to payout bets is to wait until the results for all of the all of the races that you took bets on have completed.  Go to the View / House and Bettor Activity Summary.  There, it will show how much is owed to each bettor.

Your other option is to go back to the Betting Window and cash out each ticket one-by-one.  See the Help documentation for more information.

Helpful Hints to Using Backyard Bookie on Race Day

Make "Minimum Bet" amounts small.   Unless your party is really big, keep the minimum amount allowed for a bet to something small, like 25 cents.  Set the minimum bet by clicking on the Race Card program and going to the Race Setup tab. Small bet amounts encourage a better "spread" of the money and the odds will more closely match that at the track.

Don’t have too many bet types available.  For small parties (about 20 people or fewer), unless they are big bettors, you probably will want to limit the number of bet types allowed.  You may want to allow Win and Show bets only.  Or maybe just Win and Exacta bets.  If you have too many bet types and not enough bettors, you won’t get a good "spread" on the bets.  You’re much more likely to have results come in where no one has a winning ticket or strange things happen, like a Show bet on a horse pays better than a Win bet on the same horse.

Set the "Quick Bet Amounts." Also on the Race Card’s Race Setup tab is the ability to set five "Quick Bet" amounts.  Enter the bet amounts that you expect to be used most often at your party.  For example, if your minimum bet is 25 cents, you might want to enter .25, .50, 1.00, 1.50, and 2.00 as the "quick bets."  When you are working the betting window, these amounts will appear as buttons, so that you can enter the bet amount quickly.

Enter the names of your bettors beforehand. If you expect a big rush just before the race, you might want to go ahead and enter the names of your bettors into the system prior to opening the betting window, or if you experience a lull in activity.  Use the Edit Bettors feature to maintain bettor information.

Use only initials of bettors.  If bets are coming in quickly and your crowd is small enough, you might want to use two or three initials of the bettors instead of their full names to help speed things up.

Don’t print tickets.  Since Backyard Bookie stores information about every bet in its files, you can run your operation without tickets, as long as you enter the names of each bettor along with the bet.  Printing tickets may slow the process down.   If you prefer tickets, Backyard Bookie should work well with Microsoft compatible label or ticket printers.

Use a second computer or monitor.  If you are using a laptop, you might want to grab another monitor, perhaps from your home PC, and attach it to the laptop.  That way, if you leave the odds window open while you are recording the bets, those placing bets or waiting in line can see the current odds.  And even better -- if you have a multiple computers networked together, you can use one to take the bets and another one to display the odds.  (See the Help documentation on more info on how to use a second computer.)

Settle up using the activity summary window.  At the end of the day, assuming you’ve entered bettor names along with each bet, you can quickly settle up with each bettor using the View / Activity for House and Bettors Summary function.

Using Backyard Bookie on a computer not connected to the Internet.  You can use Backyard Bookie on a computer that is not connected to the Internet, but you'll want to copy the "race card" file for the Derby to that computer.  To do this, click here, and follow the instructions to download a copy of the desired race card file.  Then copy it to your Backyard Bookie computer.



I cannot get to the "Download Race Card from" function.   This is likely due to the fact that you already have a file open.  The function works only if all files are closed, as it creates a brand new file.  Close a file by choosing "File / Close" and then the Download function should be available for you to use.

I get an "Error 53 File not Found" when I open up the "Download Race Card from" window. This generally indicates that your installation went awry.  The best thing to do is to do a de-install (Start / Settings / Control Panel / Add/Remove Programs – select Backyard Bookie, then click on Add/Remove), followed by a re-install. You can try using the same download file again for the install (named BackyardBookieZip.exe or BackyardBookieTEZip.exe), but you might want to re-download from our Tech Support page because your download file may be faulty.

The download of the Race Card starts, but I get a message that it did not complete successfully. The Internet is not 100% stable. Web hosting services often experience temporary glitches.   If you cannot get to from your browser, then either our web-hosting service or your web-hosting service is temporarily down.  Try again after 15 minutes or so.

My Place and/or Show bets pay better than my Win bets for the same horse! While this may look strange, it does not indicate a problem. This even occasionally happens at the track, but because of the laws of statistics, with the large number of bets at the track, it is quite rare.   The betting pools for Win, Place, and Show are kept totally separate, and the payouts are computed independent of one another.  So if there were a lot of bets on a horse to win, but relatively few bets on the same horse to Place, then the Place bet will likely pay bettor than the Win bet. Keep the minimum bet amount low to encourage a good "spread" of bets.  Also, let people see the odds often so that they can determine the "bargains" and perhaps these quirks won't happen.

I've lost my Registration ID from an earlier purchase!  Please click here to go to the ID lookup page.  If we can find your ID on file, we will e-mail it to you immediately.

Special phone support for Race Days:  502-419-1855



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