Horse Matchups are a relatively new wager for horseplayers to ponder. It’s simply a Matchup between two horses in a particular race. Some racebooks offer these on a daily basis at major tracks, but mostly they are available for major horse racing events like the Triple Crown races and the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Instead of handicapping an entire field, it comes down to the handicapper deciding between two horses. Similar to a money line on a sporting event, there is usually a favorite and an underdog.
An example would be a Matchup that was available for the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Bettors could decide between backing Bernardini at -125 or go with the underdog Invasor at +105.
In this wager a bettor would have to put up $125 to collect $225 backing Bernardini. Or going with the underdog, a bettor could back Invasor, putting up $100 to collect $205 for a win.
Of course, to win your wager your horse actually does not have to win the race. The horse you backed just needs to finish in front of the other horse in the Matchup wager. Your horse could finish sixth, and as long as the other runner finished seventh or worse, you cash your wager.
Matchup wagers can be utilized by horseplayers when they have a strong opinion for a particular horse or a strong opinion against another horse.
An astute handicapper can take advantage of pace scenarios that might put one of the two at a big disadvantage. While the race may not set up for your choice to win the race, you might find a situation where your choice has a decided edge over the opponent in the Matchup.
For instance, you might side with a closer while the opponent you are trying to beat is a speed horse in a race loaded with early speed. While the speed horse is dueled into submission and fades, your choice rallies up to pass the tired foe late. Your horse does not have to win the race. As long as your choice gets by the opponent in the Matchup, you cash your ticket!