06/17/2002 11:00PM

Breeders' Cup adds new props


NEW YORK - Horseplayers will be able to make proposition bets on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in a new wager unveiled Tuesday by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup Limited.

Head2Head asks fans to predict which of two designated horses will beat the other in a given race. The horses involved in each of the eight Breeders' Cup races will be announced at the Oct. 23 post position draw for the Breeders' Cup to be held on Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.

In an effort to make the wager more attractive to sports bettors already accustomed to prop bets on other professional sports, the NTRA will seek a takeout rate of 10 percent on the wager from the Illinois Racing Board, which also must okay the wager. Breeders' Cup will also offer a "Europe versus America" wager on the day's three turf races - the Turf, Mile and Filly and Mare Turf.

The Head2Head wager is the latest gimmick bet to be offered on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. In April, the Breeders' Cup Future Bet was announced, challenging fans to pick the winner of all eight races in separate pools on designated weekends throughout the summer and early fall.

Two separate pools will be offered on the Classic, Distaff and Sprint and one pool each on the Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, Turf, Mile and Filly and Mare Turf. The pools will be offered on July 4-7, Aug. 9-11, Aug. 30-Sept. 2 and Sept. 20-22.

In other Breeders' Cup news announced Tuesday:

*The NTRA and Breeders' Cup formed an alliance with Ascot Racecourse in England and Longchamp Racecourse in France to market and promote the organizations' respective events and strengthen the linkage between European and U.S. racing.

As part of the agreement, two days - Sept. 28 at Ascot and Oct. 6 at Longchamp - will be designated special Breeders' Cup days and races such as the Queen Elizabeth II and the Arc de Triomphe will be presented on "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" broadcasts on a tape-delay basis.

* The "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" television schedule was unveiled, featuring 18 1-2 hours coverage from July 14 through Oct. 25. All shows will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and NBC. The Breeders' Cup telecast, for the second consecutive year, will be five hours long and will be broadcast on NBC from 1-6 p.m. Eastern.

* An international panel of racing secretaries will produce weekly top 10 rankings in each of the eight Breeders' Cup divisions.