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Head2Head: A Way to Go
Changing Leads
by Paul Volponi

Good news again for the everyday horseplayer! The Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships are trying to attract new business from the casual or novice player. To that end, they have developed Head2Head wagers for each of the eight championship races to be held October 26, 2002, at Arlington Park in Illinois. The takeout will be a streamlined 10%. In fishing for new fans, the good people at the Breeders’ Cup have provided established players with an excellent gam-ing opportunity. Head2Head wagers simply pit two horses in the same race against each other. It is a far cry from having to defeat an entire field of the world’s best Thoroughbreds. If your horse finishes ahead of the other designee in that particular race, you collect. So your runner can finish a badly beaten fourth, and still win for you. The two designees for the eight races will be named at the post-position draw on October 23. Actual Head2Head wagering will begin a day before the events on Friday, October 25.

Do I have any insights for Head2Head wagering? You bet, Speed! Speed horses have dominated the Breeders’ Cup Sprint recently. Get out in front and don’t look back are the watch-words here. Take a speed horse over an established middle-mover or closer in this race. Yet be careful of sprinters who either win or finish far back. You want a horse with some bottom that has made a habit of fighting all the way to the wire after being headed for the lead. Fast females have done well against the boys sprinting. So give them a solid look in a Head2Head match up.

In route races, you want to stay away from speed horses that may potentially duel for the lead. Only bet speed horses in Head2Head wagers if they are the controlling speed. You want to be certain that your horse will make the lead. Speed horses who have to fight hard early on going a route of ground aren’t going to succeed much in the Head2Head format.

Home Track Edge — The world’s top Thoroughbreds don’t get around much to Arlington Park. Give any horse with a race over the track a big leg up in the Head2Head format. Europeans participating in dirt races may be running over that type of surface for the first time. Under such circumstances, they would be tough to take in a Head2Head wager against an American runner.

Covering Your Bets — If one of the two horses designated in a Head2Head match up is your choice to win the race you will be presented with an interesting opportunity. You might be getting 5-1 against the entire field with your primary wager. The Head2Head bet can serve as insurance to cover that bet. Confidence in beating the entire field should translate to supreme confidence in beating a single horse.

America vs. Europe — American and European runners will clash in the three major grass events, Breeders’ Cup Mile, Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare and Turf and Breeders’ Cup Turf. The new Head2Head format will allow bettors to back either the American or European contingent in each of these three events. Back the speed-conscious Americans on the tight-turned Arlington turf. The Europeans will probably be favored.

This story was first published in the October - November 2002 issue of Gambling Times Magazine.

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