We all wish from time to time that our horses could talk and tell us about their past experiences, hoping the information would help us work through training issues. With many off-the-track Thoroughbreds, you can look into their pasts through Jockey Club registration papers that come with them. If you don't have your OTTB's papers, with include his racing name, however, you may find some helpful information under his top lip—in the form of a tattoo. With his tattoo—and even if it's only partially legible—The Jockey Club Registry can help you learn his racing name. With that, you can get his race record, pedigree and sales information.
One piece of information you can find out right away is what year the horse was born by looking at his Thoroughbred tattoo letter. The tattoo is a letter followed by five numbers. (Thoroughbreds older than 25 years old may only have four numbers.) The letter corresponds to the horse's birth year. Here's a handy Thoroughbred tattoo letter age chart to help you figure out what year your Thoroughbred was born. The alphabet starts over every 27 years, so a horse with an "A" tattoo might have been born in 1971 or 1997.