04/23/2002 11:00PM

Breeders' Cup future bet will make debut in July

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NEW YORK - Breeders' Cup will offer parimutuel future betting on all eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships races this year, racing officials said on Wednesday.

The bets, similar to the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, will be offered over four different weekends before the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup at Arlington Park outside Chicago. Each betting pool will include 23 individual betting interests and a field entry.

Breeders' Cup will offer two pools for the Classic, Distaff, and Sprint, and one pool for the Turf, Mile, Juvenile, Juvenile Fillies, and Filly and Mare Turf. All bets will be non-refundable, at a $2 minimum. Takeout will be 17.5 percent.

"We can have a lot of fun with this, and we think the fans can have a lot of fun with this too," said Ken Kirchner, senior vice president for product development for the Breeders' Cup.

Racing fans have embraced the Derby future bet, which has been offered by Churchill Downs the past four years. This year, handle for the three pools offered by Churchill was $1.5 million, up 23 percent compared with 2001 and a record.

Breeders' Cup has been exploring the possibility of a future wager since the beginning of this year. Illinois is one of only a few states that allows future-style betting.

Breeders' Cup had initially sought to create pools that would include 100 betting interests, but the organization backed off that plan when totalizator companies contended that the programming changes needed to accommodate that number of entries would be difficult to perform cheaply and quickly.

Kirchner said that Breeders' Cup selected the Classic, Distaff, and Sprint for the multiple pools because those races were "the three favorites" of fans. The $4 million Classic annually draws the most in handle, and the Sprint has always been considered one of the best betting races because of its wide-open field. The $2 million Distaff is considered the best race of the year for fillies and mares.

The first weekend for the pools will be July 4-July 7, when betting on the Classic, Distaff, and Sprint will be offered for the first time. The second pool for those three races will be offered on Memorial Day weekend, Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

Pools for the Turf, Mile, and FIlly and Mare Turf will be offered Aug. 9-Aug. 11. Betting for the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies will be offered Sept. 20-Sept. 22, the last pool of the year.

Kirchner said that Breeders' Cup expects to offer the future bets beyond this year's running.

"It will be an element of Breeders' Cup betting in years going forward, whether or not it's in the exact same format," Kirchner said. "We'll tweak it as we see fit."

Kirchner said the bet will be offered to France and the United Kingdom, the two countries that annually send the most horses to the Breeders' Cup. France has already participated in parimutuel betting for the Cup on several occasions.

Kirchner said that European bettors would likely favor the U.S. parimutuel pools because odds on European horses are normally much higher in the U.S. than in the United Kingdom or France.

"We would expect them to get a very good price on any horse they liked," Kirchner said. "Our pools are going to offer much better odds than their bookmakers."