Betting matchups in horse racing should appeal to sports bettors, who are used to deciding between two teams with a point spread and not a field of a dozen horses. Instead of handicapping the entire field and deciding on a winner, a matchup involves two horses in the field, with a moneyline similar to what is found in team sports. The bettor is simply wagering on which horse will finish ahead of the other, regardless of whether or not the horse wins.
How Horse Matchup Betting Works
Your horse could finish fourth, and as long as the other runner finished fifth or worse, you win your bet. There is generally a favorite and an underdog in matchup wagering.
For instance, the favorite might be -125 and the underdog listed at +105. In this wager, a bettor would have to put up $125 to collect $225 backing the favorite, or the bettor could back the underdog, putting up $100 to collect $205.
Matchup wagering can be utilized when a horseplayer has a strong opinion, either positive or negative, about a certain horse. By backing the horse in the matchups if you like him, or going against if you have a negative opinion about the horse, you only have to beat one other horse to cash your bet.
No worrying about the exacta, trifecta or superfecta, and not even having to worry about the horse winning. As long as the horse you back finished ahead of the other horse in the matchup wager, it’s a winning wager.
Where to Find an Edge
A sharp 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.
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Handicapper Michael Dempsey on horse matchup wagering:
“Betting matchups is a good way to keep things simple. If you think a horse is coming into the race and ready to toss in a clunker, just bet the other side. If you think a race sets up perfectly for a horse, he does not even need to win, just beat the other horse in the matchup. If a crazy horse comes out of the clouds at 100/1 to win the race, it just does not matter. The only thing that does is what happens to the one horse you bet and that one horse you bet against. Sounds pretty simple.”