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How to Hit the Kentucky Derby Trifecta

Is it possible to hit the trifecta or superfecta in the Kentucky Derby? How many combinations are there in a 20-horse field and what are the average payoffs? What is the right way to approach the exotics in such a large field?


In a 20-horse field there are 116,280 possible winning combinations in the superfecta. For the trifecta it is 6,840 and the exacta has 380. If you are going to successfully hit a bet like the superfecta you need to take a stand to help offset the odds of hitting the wager.  


20 horses: 116,280 combinations
19 horses: 93,024 


20: 6840
19: 5814


20: 380
19: 342


The risk is worth the reward in a race like the Derby because the average winning payoffs are huge, especially in the superfecta. The $2 superfecta payout in the last six years has ranged from $29,000 to more than $800,000.


Trying to pick the Kentucky Derby winner in 2011 is especially difficult because the field is so evenly matched. Another way to approach the exotics is to key a horse underneath.

An article posted earlier this week on Horse Racing Nation suggested longshots to consider in the Derby. The writer mentioned Pants On Fire, Santiva, Shackleford, and a couple of others as live wires on the first Saturday in May. If you like one of those horses to hit the board you could key them in the following manner...

Let's use #12 Santiva as an example. Make a small win wager on him and key him in the 2nd and/or 3rd slots under all of your win contenders (ex.- #1,7,8,13,18) in the trifecta. You could use the same approach in the superfecta. 

Trifecta 1-7-8-13-18/ALL/12  

The $1 trifecta in the above example would cost $90. So, you could invest a total of $200 in the race keying Santiva in the 2-3 slots and making a $20 win saver.   

Making smarter decisions and knowing how to approach the exotics will lead to a steadily growing bankroll and that is something everyone can agree with. Good luck in the Derby!     


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Older Comments about How to Hit the Kentucky Derby Trifecta ...

I agree with ChrisSiler. You don't want to get cute when playing the tri/super, especially in a strategy like the one laid out in this article. You should use the ALL button around your key horse because you want something crazy to happen to sweeten the pot.
That's when you leave watch me go out and he runs 2nd. You'll be kicking yourself for not spending the couple extra bucks.
Well practically some of those horses will not be there because they will be tired and backing up. So with good handicapping you can cut the number down alot.

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