These Saturday races at Churchill and Belmont meet the criteria I've established for using the superfecta-key betting strategy.
This one-mile maiden claimer on dirt for fillies and mares 3 years old and up attracted a field of nine, including one with a new trainer and two trying a route of ground for the first time.
Six runners exit dirt races at Churchill, two runners exit turf races at Gulfstream and Churchill and the final runner comes out of a synthetic race at Turfway Park.
The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of one in four starts overall and is one for three at the distance.
One entrant has had the lead at the second call twice in five starts, with the balance of the field never having the lead at the second call in 29 total tries. The pace should be advantageous to runners on or near the lead.
No. 6 Graceful Union is the only runner that has shown speed, having logged those two second-call leads in races slightly longer than the distance of Saturday's race. She should relish the cutback and take them as far as she can as your key runner with odds of 5-1.
Larry Jones has few runners these days and his runners have a tendency to show speed. No. 2 Miss Analyzed may be forwardly placed after her last start in a small field where she ran evenly at a slightly longer distance finishing fourth. She is 10-1.
No. 7 Angora Deb ran in a merry-go-round sprint on debut and followed that up with a marathon run, both on the dirt. She is turning back off a race where she was forwardly placed and should be able to secure a similar spot in this race at odds of 12-1.
No. 1 Magic Palace has three top four finishes in five lifetime tries and in those top four instances was in reasonable position early with a grinding style. She should grind her way to a placing at 6-1.
No. 5 Two Words is stretching out after hitting the board in one of four sprints, three on synthetic and one on dirt. Her efforts were balanced in three of those races and the added distance maybe prove an advantage given her running style. She is 6-1.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 6 with 1, 2, 5 and 7. Total wager: $9.60.
This one mile dirt optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up attracted a field of 10, including three stretching out for the first time and one stretching out on dirt for the first time.
Eight runners exit dirt races - three at Oaklawn, two each at Keeneland and Churchill Downs and one at Fair Grounds - with two coming out of turf races at Keeneland and Churchill.
The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of one in two starts overall and at the distance.
These runners have combined for a lead three times out of 44 total tries. The pace should be slow with the advantage to runners on or near the lead.
Brendan Walsh saddles no. 2 Loyal Company, who stretches out for the first time after a win and third on dirt and synthetic, respectively. Both efforts where slightly off-the-pace and he should improve with the added ground as your 4-1 key horse.
No. 10 Seeking Unity trained by Ken McPeek has one win and three seconds in six lifetime tries, all in dirt routes. He has solid pace-pressing speed and has never been more than a length behind at the second call after his debut. He looks like an overlay at 15-1.
No. 1 Gilcrease for Al Stall has sprinted four times across turf and dirt, logging a first on turf on debut and a second and fourth on dirt along with one out-of-the money run in a turf stakes. He looks like a grinder and should be part of the mix late at odds of 6-1.
No. 8 Cagliostro exits an eighth place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) after two solid route runs that resulted in a first and second. He should be pressing throughout with two placings in four starts at odds of 5-1.
Bill Mott sends out no. 4 Scotland, who has a first and second in two seven furlong tries. He ran from off the pace and close up in those efforts, demonstrating some versatility. He will be well bet at odds of 5-2.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 2 with 1, 4, 8 and 10. Total wager: $9.60.
This seven furlong dirt maiden race for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, attracted a field of 10, including two first-timers and one trying a sprint for the first time.
Seven runners exit dirt races - five at Churchill, one at Keeneland and one at Hawthorne - with the final runner with experience exiting a Keeneland turf race.
The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of one in two starts overall and is two of five at the distance.
No runner has had the lead at the second call in 23 total starts. Speed should be advantageous and an unpredictable pace should emerge with the presence of the two first-time starters.
No. 10 Zeitlos is making her fourth start for Steve Asmussenm coming off second place finishes at six furlongs and one mile after losing her jockey on debut. She is your key runner at 7-2.
No. 5 Driana is making her second start after running on the pace on debut in a 5.5 sprint. She should be a factor throughout at 6-1.
No. 1 American Retro, saddled by Ian Wilkes, has logged two second place finishes in two tries at today’s distance, including one at Churchill. She should be part of the mix early and late at odds of 9-2.
No. 9 Little Prankster is making her second start off a six furlong race in which she finished second after tracking the pace throughout off extremely fast fractions. She is not going to face that pace here and should improve at odds of 4-1.
The Brad Cox trained firster no. 2 Methodology is going to be a factor based upon solid works and her trainer and has to be included at odds of 3-1.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 10 with 1, 2, 5 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.
This seven furlong turf race for state-bred maiden fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, attracted a field of 10, including two trained by Christophe Clement, one of them a newcomer to his barn who is also trying turf for the first time. An additional runner is sprinting on turf for the first time.
Seven runners exit turf races - four at Aqueduct and three at Belmont - with the final three runners coming out of dirt races, two of them at Aqueduct and one at Belmont.
The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of one in three starts overall and has one runner who hit the board at the distance.
These runners have combined for a lead at the second call one of every 11 starts. The pace should be slow with the advantage to runners on or near the lead.
No. 5 Snowy Evening comes out of two turf sprints in which she finished second and third and is three of four overall on turf. She will be closing late at odds of 9-2 and is your key runner.
No. 9 Charisse has finished off the board in two turf tries, flashing speed in a one-mile race and closing some ground in a fast paced sprint. A slight improvement puts her in the mix at odds of 20-1.
The Clement runner new to his barn is no. 10 Short Shift, who has one third place finish on dirt and switches to grass. Her odds are 8-1.
No. 3 Spooky Lady has one turf try and it was a solid second on or near the lead and a vastly improved effort off her dirt tries. She brings a record of three in-the-money finishes in nine lifetime tries and her odds are 7-2.
The other Clement runner is no. 7 Souffle who has a second and fourth place finish in two shorter turf sprints and closed in both of those efforts. She is the likely betting favorite.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 5 with 3, 7, 9 and 10. Total wager: $9.60.
Why play superfectas?
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 heavily wagered upon runners tend to be over bet in the superfecta pool and when outsiders come in especially in the top two positions, explosive payouts might result.
This is why a 10 cent superfecta is a great leveraged wager if you select one runner you strongly believe will land in any one of the top four positions.
The table below summarizes the reduction in your outlays for superfecta wagers when you key one runner essentially boxing it with four to seven other runners.
Superfecta key wagering savings
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 straight box of any sort makes little sense.
The superfecta key strategy illustrated above requires you to ensure that your keyed horse finish in one of those 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.