4 Superfecta keys Saturday at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita

4 Superfecta keys Saturday at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

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 and even trifectas in some circumstances where the probable payouts are available. 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.  

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 finish in one of the top four positions. To maximize return, I am looking for three conditions to create potential for a high payoff.

The conditions are:

  • Betting interests of at least nine 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

The Saturday cards at Churchill and Santa Anita each provide two opportunities on turf.

At Churchill

Race 7

This mile and one sixteenth optional claimer on the turf for 3-year-old fillies attracted a field of 11 including two runners trained by Mark Casse. Five runners exit turf races at either Keeneland, Fairgrounds or Gulfstream with four exiting dirt races from Mahoning Valley, Keeneland, Fairgrounds and Gulfstream. The final two entrants had last outs on synthetic at Turfway. Three runners are trying a route for the first time and four are trying turf for the first time including one of the first time routers. Runners have combined for an in the money rate of nearly 50 percent overall and are three of four at the distance. There is a solid amount of speed with runners having the lead at the second call over 20 percent of the time for races that show. This coupled with all the runners trying a route for the first time suggest a fast pace. The advantage should be to closers. The fact that these are 3-year-old runners coupled with over half the field trying turf or stretching out for the first time suggests this race is wide open and should be played that way.

No. 10 Schlofmitz comes into this event off four consecutive synthetic tries at Turfway where she logged two wins at a mile prior to her off the board stakes effort at today’s distance where she was on pace and withered after pressuring the leader throughout. The race sets up for her to be a tough player down the stretch and at 10-1 she is your key runner.

No. 3 High Speed for high percentage small stable trainer Grant Forster is stretching out on turf for the first time and a fast paced race should be to her advantage given her closing style and her propensity to break slowly. At odds of 30-1, she fits the profile of a superfecta player who could come along late and contribute to an explosive payout.

One of the two Mark Casse runners is No. 9 Princessofthenorth who ran three solid top four sprints on synthetic at Woodbine and Turfway last year before tiring in her 3-year-old debut on dirt. This filly projects to be very competitive if she runs similarly to her synthetic sprint efforts where she demonstrated the ability to close. Her odds are 12-1.

No. 1 Walkathon won in her first try on turf at this distance at Keeneland coming from off the pace running very fast late. Since debut she has reeled off four consecutive top four finishes and she should be part of the superfecta as one of the betting favorites.

No. 8 Glenall trained by California trainer Richard Baltas has been in the money five of eight starts all turf tries, and has demonstrated the ability to close from way out of it. Her last start was in a Graded stake where she fared poorly after breaking her maiden in her first turf route try. If she even comes close to that effort she should be a strong stretch factor dueling for favoritism with No. 1 Walkathon.

The Play

$.10 Superfecta Key 10 with 1, 3, 8 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.

Race 9

The Mamzelle Overnight Stakes for 3-year-old fillies is contested at five furlongs on turf and attracted a full field of 12 including two trained by Brendan Walsh. Six runners exit turf events at either Keeneland, Belmont, Fairgrounds, Gulfstream or Kentucky Downs. Last time outs on dirt include five runners in total from Horseshoe Indianapolis, Keeneland, and Churchill and one runners exits a synthetic race at Turfway. Two runners are trying turf for the first time and three are coming in off layoffs. The field has combined for an in the money rate of nearly 60 percent overall and well over 80 percent at the distance. There is a solid amount of speed with runners combining for a lead at the second call nearly one in four starts for races that show. This short distance coupled with the speed anticipated should ensure a very fast pace.  This race similar to Race 7 is wide open when you combine the age of the field with first time turf runners and layoff runners.

No. 4 Boxing Day one of two Brendan Walsh trainees is making her sixth lifetime start and she has three in the money finishes in all her turf sprint tries with two out of the money finishes in turf routes. She should be a strong stretch factor and is your key horse at 15-1.

The other Brendan Walsh entrant is No. 8 Majestic d’Oro a runner who is trying turf for the first time who has a running style that should make her a stretch factor at even five furlongs if speed wilts on the front end. At odds of 12-1 she is a solid superfecta player.

Steve Asmussen sends out No. 10 Tizplenty who is making her first 3-year-old start and she has never finished worse than fourth in all six of her lifetime starts. She should be a pace factor and may hang around for a share at odds of 15-1.

Dominant trainer Wesley Ward sends out the Breeders’ Cup Filly Turf Sprint winner in No. 5 Twilight Gleaming who is deservedly the morning line favorite and a must include with six in the money finishes in six tries with three wins. 

Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out No. 2 Mystic Eyes who possesses the highest early speed of any entry and has been in the money all her turf sprint tries. She is making her first start as a 3-year-old and should come out of the gate like a rocket and is dangerous and at the same time may fail in the stretch. She cannot be ignored as the probable second choice.

The Play

$.10 Superfecta Key 4 with 2, 5, 8 and 10. Total wager: $9.60.

At Santa Anita

Race 7

This six and one half furlong turf event for 4-year-old and up fillies and mares attracted nine runners including two trained by Ruben Alvarado. Seven runners exit turf races including two from Turf Paradise and five with last outs at Santa Anita. The final two runners exit dirt races at Santa Anita and Delmar with the latter off a long layoff. The last time out at Turf Paradise runners both have new trainers via the claim box or a direct change. The field has combined for an in the money rate of 50 percent overall and eight of nine starts at the distance. There is a solid amount of speed with runners having the lead a combined one in six tries for races that show. The advantage should be to mid pack runners.

Trainer Jeff Mullins sends out the 7-year-old mare No. 6 Storming Lady who is 18 of 29 lifetime and has been in the money at this distance four of five tries with no wins. Her pace pressing running style and overall record support her inclusion as your superfecta key at odds of 4-1.

No. 9 Draw Me makes her second turf start and will like be closing down the stretch in her second start on Santa Anita turf. Her first try was at six furlongs and she was able to pass some runners in that race. She has been in the money over half her starts and the slightly greater distance coupled with her upside potential in terms of a solid superfecta payout at odds of 20-1 make her a valid part of the ticket.

One of the Ruben Alvarado entries is No. 8 Respect My Candor who tries the distance for the first time. She comes out of a fourth place finish after being out since the fall of 2020. Her turf record is three of eight but her running style moves her up in this field. Anticipate improvement in her second start after that long layoff with a closing kick late at odds of 8-1.

No. 1 Invincibella is the second of runners hailing from the barn of Ruben Alvarado. This mare is making her first start for Alvarado her fourth trainer in her last five starts. She is two for two at the distance, both wins, and looks like a grinding runner even at sprint distances. Her odds are 5-1.

No. 7 Suite Madam Blue is the probable favorite for trainer Bob Hess Jr. She runs balanced and has a four of eight turf record with three wins. If a speed duel does not develop she should be on or need the lead and still have something left in the stretch as one of the probable short priced runners.

The Play

$.10 Superfecta Key 6 with 1, 7, 8 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.

Race 9

This one mile on the turf allowance event for 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares attracted a field of ten runners including two runners each trained by Ron Ellis and John Sadler respectively. Seven runners exit Santa Anita turf races, two exit Santa Anita dirt events, and one runner exits a synthetic race at Golden Gate with one runner trying turf for the first time. Runners have combined for an in the money rate of nearly 60 percent overall and the same rate at the distance. The field has also combined for a lead at the second call about one in six starts. There is a solid amount of speed in the race with the advantage to off pace runners.

Trainer John Sadler sends out No. 3 Sky On Ice for her third start as a 4-year-old. This is her second stint with Sadler and her 11th start overall. She has finished third and fourth in her last two tries both with Sadler and they were improved efforts compared to her overall performance in her first two racing seasons. She has tactical speed but not need to lead speed and at 4-1 is your key runner.

Low percentage trainer Paula Capestro’s runner No. 2 Jimmysmokedcarrot is a grinder who has been in the money seven of 12 lifetime turf starts and that includes six of nine at today’s distance. This mare figures to inherit a superfecta placing off a relatively fast pace at odds of 8-1.

The runner with the fewest starts in the field, the only 3-year-old, is No. 1 Virulente for trainer Phil D’Amato. She is not as fast as the better runners in the field, comes out of her maiden breaking effort at today’s distance and surface, but has upside potential that merits her inclusion at odds of 6-1. 

No. 4 With This Vow is one of the two Ron Ellis trainees. She is lightly raced for a 5-year-old, and has been in the money seven of her nine lifetime starts. This runner has tactical but not need to lead speed, and been in the top four all of her tries after her debut where she finished sixth. Her odds are 5-1.

Carla Gaines has been having an excellent meeting and sends out No. 9 Rose’s Crystal who needs pace to chase and she should get that here to be a strong stretch factor. Her overall record is 10 for 17 with six third place finishes. Her odds at 4-1.

The Play

$.10 Superfecta Key 3 with 1, 2, 4 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.

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