3 Superfecta keys for Del Mar on Friday

3 Superfecta keys for Del Mar on Friday
Photo: Courtesy Del Mar

We are driven by a particular wagering style or strategy. These styles and strategies might be based upon:

  • reading

  • observation of others

  • detailed analytics

  • public selections

  • non-public wagering selections paid for

  • random guessing

  • using the board to dictate what you bets are in absolute terms

There are other drivers, but the list above covers most of the bets made.

For me, one main attraction to superfectas is that a superfecta probable payout pool is not displayed – making this bet an unknown endeavor relative to an exacta.   However, if you observe the pool results over a long period of time, you will come to realize the favorites tend to be over bet in the pool and when outsiders come in especially in the top two positions, explosive payouts might result. 

This is why a 10 cent superfecta key is a great leveraged wager.  Leverage can be defined as using something to maximum advantage.

The table below summarizes the reduction in your outlays for superfecta wagers when you key vs box your selections.




























There are books out there and it is common logic that the box wager makes no sense unless all horses are valued equally by the handicapper. Without getting too technical here, it is obvious if you have an opinion on a race, a box of any sort makes little sense.

The superfecta key requires you to ensure that your keyed horse must finish in one of the top four positions. To maximize return, I am looking for three situations to create potential for a high payoff.

The conditions are:

  • Betting interests of at least 9 entries but not more than 12 

  • The ability to confidently key a horse that is not an odds-on or a heavily bet favorite

  • Field that has runners seemingly ignored in the pool that would be at very high odds at post time but could be in the top four randomly

Why are these conditions important?

A small field size in general, will not lead to outlandish outcomes. A field size extremely large, will lead to a requirement that may be too demanding for your bankroll.

If you are keying a 3-5 runner, well, it would seem like you do not have a very strong opinion to back up your wager for a potentially explosive outcome.  On the other hand, if you key a runner who is 8-1, then we are talking about some potentially massive payouts.

Randomness in horse racing has to be accepted, especially when a race breaks down and a deep closer might come along late due to an unusual pace, or other factors.

The guidance provided regarding superfecta wagering can be summarized as follows:

  • Save significant amounts on wagering from 20 to 50 percent using leverage to your advantage

  • Focus this wager on larger field size races, where unpredictable outcomes can be realized

  • Drive you to decisions that are not based upon what I would characterize as a lazy opinion using the box approach

  • Risk/reward potential is favorable

Let’s put this betting strategy into action!

Lastly and most importantly, the recommendations made are based upon the morning line odds. In real practice, adjustments have to be made based upon a significant change in the odds at post time. Ideally the horses in the superfecta recommendations all go off at higher odds than the morning line, but this is unlikely.  As a result, if the board shows a significant change to the downside in the odds for especially the key horse, I would pass on the recommended wager.

Friday's card at Del Mar provides a few opportunities, so let's take a closer look:

Race 3 

I love “cheap” races as much as stake races.     

The morning line suggests only a couple of runners are true outsiders and many are afforded an equal chance.

Honorary Degree #2 makes his second start for Adam Kitchingman off an even effort at Los Alamitos. His first two starts were against straight maidens including Spielberg.  He is a great superfecta play with a chance to win at 5-1 and should be keyed.

Two first time starters are entered, and one should be in the top four based upon the performance of horses who have already run. You should include #9 Eight Maker, who was a fairly expensive purchase for the Doug O’Neill barn which has a good percentage return with Maiden Claimer first time starters.  

Mad Catter #4 was hanging around at 6.5 panels off a hot pace at Santa Anita, and could shake loose and not look back.  #7 Union Bliss ran evenly in his dirt debut for Hector Palma after engaging two tougher fields on the turf and should hang around for a piece.  The superfecta is rounded out by #6 Sir Flatter, off three mile races on the dirt. If he is devoid of trouble in this race, a reasonable trip will get him to the superfecta.

The Play

$.10 Superfecta Key 2 with 4, 6, 7 and 9. Total wager: $9.60

Race 7 – Fleet Treat Stakes

It is especially fun when you see opportunity in higher quality events. 

This race appears devoid of speed and at 7 panels, the horse who gets the jump early could be very tough to beat. Respectfully#3, off a morning line of 5-1 figures to be on or near the lead, could wire the field and is stretching out just enough to have that advantage off a controlling pace.

Admittedly, all the runners look like they have a chance of a top four finish.   Here is where the art of wagering comes in. I will include horses who are long odds off the morning line, who may not win, but could be part of a wild unpredictable finish.  Quinn Howey has one such runner in Joymaker #6, a Golden Gate based runner who does not look as fast as others but is on a two race win streak whose morning line is 12-1.  #2 Closing Remarks out of the Carla Gaines barn is moving to the dirt and has placed in graded stakes; include her.  At 20-1 Wishtheyallcouldbe #5 ran close to Eddie’s New Dream, is still a maiden, and is a potential game changer for a great superfecta payout.

#4 Eddie’s New Dream is a dirt horse from the small Ben Cecil barn with five in the money finishes and she rounds out the superfecta.

The Play

$.10 Superfecta Key 3 with 2, 4, 5 and 6. Total wager: $9.60

Race 8

#3 Talklessworkmore is out of the Ruis barn and makes her second start stretching out to a mile. She closed well in her debut and figures to be closer and could possibly win this race. Expect improvement at 8-1.

Carla Gaines runner #5 Wilder Than Most came out of the same race as the Ruis runner and is also 8-1. Her speed has to be rationed on the stretch out but she can last.  Really Big News #12 looks best and must be included, once again out of the same race as the prior mentioned runners.   #7 Harbor Sky was checked in her last start, has run a mile before and should run well today at generous odds of 15-1. 

To round out this superfecta, I am going to include #8 Eagle in the Sky, who has finished in the top four in all starts, including two turf tries at this distance.

The Plays(s)

$.10 Superfecta Key  3 Talklessworkmore with 5, 7, 8 and 12. Total wager, $9.60

This is the first race where I would consider adding a fifth horse while still keying #3 Talklessworkmore.  Adding #10 Donner Lake who should improve second time out stretching out. The total wager would be $24.00.  

$.10 Superfecta Key  3 Talklessworkmore with 5, 7, 8, 10 and 12. Total wager, $24.00

As discussed earlier actual odds dictate decisions. This final race at Del Mar appears to offer the best opportunity for a nice superfecta score since there are a good number of horses who appear to have a great chance to improve on the stretch out or have been underrated on the morning line.


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