To select a good racing homing pigeon, first look for signs of health, such as soft, intact feathers with a silky look and feel. The bird should also have an alert and energetic demeanor, and it should respond when you touch it.
Racing pigeons need to have good conformation. They should have a proud, upright posture and a long tail. The chest should be deep and rounded, and the wings should have an athletic, strong look. Racing pigeons should have evenly rounded heads and long necks. Avoid getting distracted by unusual coloring or other purely cosmetic features; some plain pigeons are the best performers.
Pigeons need to be strong to be successful racers, so look for a bird with muscular wings. Test the wing strength by holding the bird in one hand and gently placing the index finger of your other hand between the bird's wing and rib cage just under the first knuckle of the wing. A good racing prospect should instinctively tighten that muscle, letting you feel its strength.
Look for pigeons from good breeders. Try to purchase from a person who is still actively involved in pigeon racing. Good pigeon breeders should only breed proven racers. Avoid buying birds of unknown lineage.