Head2Head Is Nose-To-Nose in a Few Races

The battle lines have been drawn. Now, Breeders' Cup and National Thoroughbred Racing Association officials are hoping the "race within a race" proves popular at the betting windows.

The match-ups for the new Head2Head proposition wager were announced Oct. 23 during the post-position draw for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Ken Kirchner, senior vice president of product development for the NTRA, said he selected the horses under several scenarios, including European vs. U.S.-based horse, jockey vs. jockey, and speed vs. closer.

"There were various considerations in trying to find competitive horses to make it a topic of discussion and a good bet," Kirchner said. "We're limited because there is only one (match-up) per race."

Head2Head has a 10% takeout rate. The proposition wager has been marketed through National Thoroughbred Racing Association-produced television programs, advertisements in track programs and Daily Racing Form, closed-circuit clips on simulcast feeds, and NTRA.com.

Kirchner wouldn't venture a guess as to the size of Head2Head pools -- "I can't tell you if it there will be $50,000 bet on a race or a $100,000 bet on a race," he said -- but the bet should provide a good opportunity to see how much interest there is in such wagers.

"We think Head2Head has a lot of potential with sports bettors who are accustomed to similar proposition bets in football, basketball, and other sports," Kirchner said. "The objective is to introduce a fun, new wager with the potential to allow fans to cash many tickets during the course of the day."

The Head2Head match-ups are as follows, along with Blood-Horse selections. The morning-line odds are listed for informational purposes only and will have no bearing on the payoffs for the new proposition wager:

Breeders' Cup Distaff
Take Charge Lady (3-1) vs. Farda Amiga (12-1)

Interesting battle here, but the edge goes to Take Charge Lady, who should be closer to the early pace and should get the jump on Farda Amiga.

Long John Silver's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
Santa Catarina (4-1) vs. Westerly Breeze (12-1)

Westerly Breeze has two races on the Arlington surface and drew outside of the speed. Great race for a filly to come running late to pick up the pieces; might be enough to finish ahead of Santa Catarina, who might be favored in the Head2Head.

NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile
Beat Hollow (6-1) vs. Good Journey (8-1)

If Beat Hollow is as cranked for this race as trainer Bobby Frankel has indicated, he's not only a good bet to beat Good Journey in the Head2Head, but to win the whole thing.

NAPA Breeders' Cup Sprint
Xtra Heat (5-1) vs. Swept Overboard (5-1)

It's early speed vs. late kick in this match-up. The edge goes to Xtra Heat, who may get her chance to rate a bit from post six with the lightning-fast filly Carson Hollow to her inside. If Swept Overboard is within six lengths of the early lead and not too wide from post 12, he should make this one very close.

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf
Golden Apples (5-2) vs. Islington (9-2)

U.S.-based filly tackles the European filly in this battle. Golden Apples is the pick to finish first or second in the Filly & Mare Turf, so take it from there.

Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Sky Mesa (3-1) vs. Vindication (4-1)

Toss-up time. Vindication by a nose.

John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf
High Chaparral (8-5) vs. Denon (5-1)

With only eight horses in the race, High Chaparral figures to land an excellent spot. Enough said.

Breeders' Cup Classic
War Emblem (3-1) vs. Hawk Wing (5-1)

If War Emblem breaks well and gets comfortable early, he figures to be around for a long time. Hawk Wing is one of the best 3-year-olds in Europe who makes his first start on the dirt. Head-to-head, nose-to-nose in this one.

The match-ups will be listed at the top of each race page in the official program, and also will be listed in total on a separate program page.