Head to Head Wager Debuts at Del Mar
Do not let the simple nature of the wager-pick which of two horses will finish ahead of the other-fool you. Landing on the correct horse requires far more thought than figuring out which is the better animal. However, the "50-50" nature of the bet could help it appeal to Del Mar’s novice audience, and the 10% takeout offers a better chance for value.
The bet is more complex than meets the eye because too many bettors will ask, "Who is more likely to win this race?" when they should be asking, "Who is more likely to finish ahead of the other horse?" The wrinkle in that approach is that the goal of the connections of each horse is not to defeat the other but to win the race.
Suddenly, we’re not dealing with "Who is the better horse" but "Who is more likely to finish ahead of the other horse based on the end goal of winning the race." The head to head wager runs each Saturday of the Del Mar meeting, and we will be looking at the featured matchup each week in this space.
This week’s matchup is between Acclamation and Caracortado, two of eight entrants in the $300,000 Eddie Read S. BRISnet.com Ultimate Past Performances are a valuable tool for handicapping any race, especially races within a race since the pace and speed ratings help to compare a whole field or specific horses.
Del Mar Director of Racing Tom Robbins did a good job selecting this week’s combatants, as the speed of Acclamation will certainly be put to the test by the closing power of Caracortado.
Acclamation will almost certainly be ahead of Caracortado in the early stages of the races. In the only time they met, in the Frank Kileroe Mile (G1) on March 5 at Santa Anita Park, Acclamation set the pace and was six-plus lengths ahead of Caracortado throughout the early stages before fading to fifth while Caracortado closed fast (sub 23 seconds for the final quarter) to be second behind Fluke.
Acclamation has won his previous two starts at longer distances, easily doling his speed at a 1 1/2 miles and 1 ¼ miles to win by open lengths this spring at Hollywood Park, but he is shortening to 1 1/8 miles for this race, and the BRIS early speed ratings (E1 & E2) indicate that he might not even be on the lead if Celtic Princess has her way. The BRIS late pace rating also indicates that Acclamation does not close as well at shorter distances.
Factoring the above pace considerations in with a four-pound weight break for Caracortado and the fact that jockey Joe Talamo sticks with the Cat Dreams gelding despite finishing second on him last out while winning aboard Acclamation in a Grade 1, and Caracortado is my clear pick to finish ahead of Acclamation 80% of the time in this race, making Caracortado value in the head to head wager at 2-to-5, which is another good thing about this bet: How often is 2-to-5 is value?