The Switch to Paid and Free Races

The Switch to Paid and Free Races

Hawku has always focused on building a great experience for shoppers and purchasers of NFT game tokens like ZED.Run.  

When Hawku launched in June of 2021 focusing on, the absolute best way to shop  for horses on ZED was to look only at paid races. In fact, one reason I started Hawku was because no other shopping site offered a way to easily filter, search and view horses by paid races only.

The times were different back in June. Back then the vast majority of races were paid (85% paid and 15% free).  Free races were used only by the least winning horses only to prop up their win rates on ZED and other sites.  Horse value was driven by averaging odds and estimated win rates and those rates could be quickly manipulated by racing poorer quality horses in free races to boost their numbers.

Hawku took an opinionated stance to ignore free races from horse data after seeing so many sellers stage their horses with free races to distort their real value. (Nothing against the sellers - totally reasonable to do!)

So why the change?

In the six months since its launch, has changed significantly.

  • With tournaments and other incentives, free races are now the large majority of the game.  Whereas they used to be about 15% of the game, Since October 1, 2021, over 55% of total races were free. With the introduction of being able to down ratings points in free races a few days ago, free races have exploded even further.  From December 1, 2021, to December 11 -  over 67% of races have been free.  If that trend continues with the current number of races, by sometime next month there will be more free races in the history of ZED than paid races.
  • Almost all horses are now racing free. In the past, only the worst horses would race free - primarily as a way to quickly flip them. Now almost all horses have raced or are racing free races either to qualify for tournaments or to down-button. While free races are still not nearly as competitive as paid races, the quality of the competition has increased since the days when no good races raced free.  
  • Free now gives much more information than it did when Hawku first launched. With the introduction of fire and more consistent distance preference place results, players can use free races as a way to test out and quickly learn their horse’s distance preferences as well as variability.  A horse with 1-2 paid races and 20 free races has much more valuable information than one with just 1-2 paid races and no free.
  • The recent change in Zed’s policies to allow people to down-class in free races will have the secondary effect of actually distorting paid race win rates.  Smart horse owners of distance preference horses will only run their horses’ best distances in paid races and the worst distance in free.  As a result, win rates will now represent a horse’s top performance funnel and will likely significantly distort a horse’s true win rate compared to past racing.  It will become harder and harder to search for good horses by paid win rate alone as you will need to also know whether or not they down-classed using free races.
  • Finally it should be noted that Hawku’s opinion on paid races brought about some confusion in the community as our data did not match Zed’s.  As we continue to build out our platform, we would like to have our data match the rest of the community’s.

Given the dominance of free races, the changing of the game, and the information you can gather from free races, Hawku felt it no longer was serving the buyer’s best interest to just remove the vast majority of racing data from filtering, sorting and purchasing decisions.  

So what’s the change?!

Starting today, Hawku will now be showing data for free and paid races. We will also be splitting out data for paid only.  Horse listings will show both total win rate (marked by a trophy) and paid win rate (marked by a dollar sign) together.  Buyers will be able to filter on both.  Horse detail pages will default to both paid + free but will show the distinction in win rate and have an easy way to toggle to show paid only.  

People who love looking for paid only data can filter on the listings and sale pages (for paid win rate) and also filter the detail page by paid only.  Paid-only win rates will still appear prominently on listings pages.

This will take some time for people to adjust to and will require some adjustments to people’s queries, but overall the benefits are going to outweigh the costs as there is much more data in free races now than there was even 3 months ago and allowing people to search by the combination will hopefully be more powerful than either alone.

By including both paid and total win rates we can remove the biggest issue of free races (i.e. seller staging a horse’s win rate by just racing free).

The Hawku ZED Buying Guide has been updated with these changes.

We likely will be continuing to update and improve this change - adding more functionality that allows people who love to limit to paid still have control over their Hawku experience.

We’d love the community’s input. If you are having problems with adjusting your query to this change or have new suggestions on how we can improve (either visually or with other small filter changes), please do not hesitate to dm cryptog on discord, dm @hawku_com, or email support at  We’ll do our best to help! No intros to discord servers or pumps for new NFTs please!

Thanks again to all the people who beta tested the earlier version of this change and provided amazing feedback and suggestions!

And yes, there is a horse feeding message on this as well.