How To Easily And Quickly Learn to Play Horse Race Drinking Game

Claire and I a few times a year host themed drinking games at our home. She loves going all out. Dressing up, decorating the house and buying props etc… We haven’t hosted a Horse Race Drinking Party yet but after doing all this research, we are now adding it to our top list of themes

A basic introduction on of how to play Horse Race Drinking Game. To set up, the aces are removed from the deck of cards (called the‘Horses’) and placed side by side on a table. Approx. 12 cards are placed in a vertical line to the left of the horses.

The players pick a horse and place a bet (‘alcohol’). To Play: One card is continually turned over one at a time and placed in front of the matching the suit (Ace/horse). The first horse to reach the end of the track is the winner. Losers must drink their bet. The winner gives their drink to the loser.

That’s the summary but of course there are a few tricks and variations that I have learnt and you need to know so you will get the most out of this game.


Table of Contents
Horse Race Drinking Game
Set up your Race Track
Choose you Horse and Place your Bet
How to Play Horse Racing
Winners and Losers
The Kentucky Derby Drinking Game
Paladone Drinking Derby Card Set

The aim of the game

The aim of this game to get your horse to the end of the race track. Fortunately, there is absolutely no skilled involved in this game. It’s all about the luck of the cards.

The fun part is to get all players cheering on their horse. The more creative and loud you are, the more fun you will have.

Number of Players

  • 2+ but the more the merrier

What you need

  • Pen and Paper
  • Deck of cards
  • Table
  • Drinks

Set Up the Horse Race Drinking Game Race Track

  • Go through all the cards and take out the 4 aces. These are your ‘horses’
  • Line the aces up at the end of the table side by side – known as ‘the gates’
  • On the left-hand side to the aces, place a row of cards face down, in vertical line. (looks like a L shape) Number of cards is up to you and will determine the length of the race track- but a least 10 -12

Choose your horse

  • Each player to choose their horse (ace). In the case of 2 players, choose 2 horses each 

Place your bet

  • Your bet is a ‘drink’. This is the ‘pay out’ should the horse win or lose. You give your horses(s) a number of drinks
  • The value of the drinks is usually between 1 – 5
  • For example: Ace Diamonds has 4 drinks. The ace of spades 3 on so on

Pen and Paper

  • Take your pen and paper and divide and draw 3 sections –Name | Suit | Bet
  • Write down the players’ names
  • write down the suit they choose
  • Write down the number of drinks

How to play Horse Racing Drinking Game

  • Once everything is set up the dealer turns over the first card and places it in front of the matching suit to ace – Example: Ace of diamonds – any diamond card etc…
  • The dealer keeps turning over the cards and placing the same suit in front of each horse (ace)
  • The horses start advancing. Once the row has been filled the face card on the left gets turned over and added to the rows (variation rule below)
  • The Horse (suits) that’s gets to the end first is the winner

Drinking Rules – These are optional and vary from game to game


  • Stumble Rule – Leave in the jokers and add this rule. When a joker is turned over the leading horse stumbles and must come back 2 cards. 2 cards are removed from that suit.
  • Falter Rule – Once the row has been filled the face card on the left gets turned over and whatever suit it is the horse moves Back one space

Winners and Losers

  • Losers – must drink their bet.
  • Winner – Gets to give their bet to the other player (if more than 2 players, they choose who to give the drink to)
  • Summary – At the end of the race, the players who correctly bet on the winning suit give out their bet to chosen players.  Players who made incorrect bets must drink their bet.
As we are on the subject of Horse Racing drinking games, I have added an additional game which is a lot of  fun to play.

The Kentucky Derby Drinking Game 

For those who love and follow horse racing the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is a major event and no reason why you can’t turn it into your own personal drinking game.

This is similar to playing  movie drinking games. If you don’t want to wait for Derby day just pick any horse race that is covered on TV. There are Derby Race Days all over the world, check out the list here  As well as races days

Here what you need

  • Group of friends or just the 2 of you
  • TV screen with coverage of a horse race
  • List of horses running
  • Favourite drinks
  • Mint Julep

Here’s what you do

  • Place all the names of the horses running into a hat – Get your names here
  • Everyone to take a name. Or take as many as you want

Drinking Rules

  • Take a drink whenever they mention your horse(s)
  • Take a drink when you horse appeals on the screen
  • Take a drink whenever you hear “most exciting two minutes in sports” said.
  • Take a drink when you see someone drinking Mint Julep
  • Take a drink when the commentator mentions Mint Julep
  •  Take a drink when
  • Take a drink when a celebrity appears on the screen
  • First person to name the celebrity picks someone to take a drink
  • Take a drink when they interview someone and mentions their outfit
  • Take a drink when they interview someone and mention their hat
  • Take a drink when you hear the words ‘Triple Crown”
  • The person who can’t name the tracks must finish their drink
  • Take a drink every time there is a commercial break
  • Take a drink if a hat on the screen is more than your week’s wages
  • Take a drink if a woman’s outfit color matches her hat
  • Take a drink if someones hat blows off
  • Take a drink if you see a man wear a stupid hat
  • Take a drink if you see 2 women wearing the same hat
  • Take a drink if a man and woman’s outfit if a match
  • Take a drink if you see a jockey in the same color as you
  • Take an extra drink if that jockey wearing your colors is your horse
  • Take a drink if the horses are referred to as ‘Athletes’
  • Take a drink if they mention the height of the Jockeys
  • Take a drink if they mention the weight of the Jockeys
  • Take a drink if they show last year’s derby race
  • Take a drink if your horse is last to start
  • Take a drink is your horse is scratched from the race
  • Finish your drink if your horse finishes last
  • Take a drink if it is a photo finish
  • If your horse wins, everyone else drinks

 Be inventive and add you more rules or make them up as you go!

Its hard to think about the Kentucky Derby without an image of a Mint Julep coming to mind. As the Mint Julep is the official Kentucky Derby Drink I couldn’t finish this article with adding the recipe. It was named the cocktail of the Derby in 1938

How to make a Traditional Mint Julep

Here’s what you need


  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 5-6 Mint Leaves
  • Crushed Ice
  • Powdered Sugar

Other stuff you need

  • Cocktail Julep Cup
  • Lewis Bag and Mallet to crush ice or ice crushing machine
  • Drink stir

Using the Lewis Bag to  crush the ice

A simple way to crush your ice is to use a canvas bag and mallet know as  Lewis Bag

  • Place your ice into the lewis bag
  • Use your mallet and crush the ice

Heres what to do

  • At the bottom of your cup put add 5 – 6 pieces of fresh mint.
  • Add 1/2 oz. of simple syrup. This helps muddle the mint as opposed to using powdered sugar
  • Using a muddler, lightly muddle the mint and syrup. Your aim is to create a mint infused syrup
  • Add 2 oz. of bourbon
  • Fill the Julep Cup with crushed ice
  • Take a small drink stir and stir the drink
  • Top it up with more ice
  • Garnish with a few mint sprigs
  • Take some powdered sugar and lightly dust the top
  • Serve with 2 drink straws placed by the mint.

Paladone Drinking Derby Card Set

Finally to complete my article here is a ready-made version of Horse Race Drinking Game. It includes everything but the alcohol.

What I like is the themed shot glasses and the race course cards.

The set comes with:

  • 4 themed horse and jockey racing shot glasses – which is used as your horse
  • Deck of race course picture cards

The rules are the same as with the traditional game, except the shot glasses are your horses.

If you are hosting a theme Derby race day or any race day, this is a great way to impress your friends.

Enjoy learning to play Horse Race Drinking Game. If you are looking for other awesome Drinking Card Game especially for 2 people check out….

Hi, my Name is Ethan, my partner Claire and I designed Keg of Wisdom to provide entertainment. We do not support excessive alcohol, irresponsible behaviour, drink driving or underage drinking. We ask that you know your limitations and please drink responsibly