10/22/2002 11:00PM

New bet asks, 'Who do you like, Head2Head?'


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Breeders' Cup announced match-ups Wednesday for its inaugural Head2Head betting.

Modeled on proposition bets popular in Las Vegas race books, Head2Head match-ups will be offered on each of the eight Breeders' Cup races. The bet is parimutuel with a 10 percent takeout. The winning Head2Head horse finishes in a higher position than his or her opponent.

"It's really sports betting. That's the model that's out there," said Ken Kirchner, who coordinated the wager for Breeders' Cup.

Autotote, the tote company at Arlington, can accept only one Head2Head bet per Breeders' Cup race because the company's software reads the wager as a win bet, Kirchner said.

"Because you can only offer one bet per race, that makes it more difficult to put together match-ups," he said. "If you had multiple prop bets, you could do a lot more."

Kirchner said he sought out touch points of interest in each race, whether it was a match-up of favorites or running styles, or two horses that might both be expected to finish farther back in the pack. Because of the high profile of so many Breeders' Cup horses, the bet will appeal to novice players, while more experienced fans can use it to back up specific opinions they've formed about certain races.

The Distaff pits Farda Amiga against Take Charge Lady, both 3-year-olds but the former a closer and latter a pace horse. In the Juvenile Fillies it is high-profile Santa Catarina vs. Westerly Breeze, a lesser known upsetter of the Alcibiades at Keeneland. The Mile matches top Americans Beat Hollow and Good Journey, while the selection of the popular Xtra Heat for the Sprint was a no-brainer. She's matched against the best closer in the race, Swept Overboard.

In the Filly and Mare Turf, it's European invader Islington against the top American filly Golden Apples. In the Juvenile, favorites Sky Mesa and Vindication are paired. High Chaparral, the top European hope, battles Denon, considered America's best, in the Turf. And in the Classic it is Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem against Hawk Wing, second in the Epsom Derby.

Kirchner said Head2Head odds would be posted on monitors Breeders' Cup Day.