Superfecta keys: Play these 4 at Gulfstream, Santa Anita

Superfecta keys: Play these 4 at Gulfstream, Santa Anita
Photo: Arron Haggart / Eclipse Sportswire

These Saturday races at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita meet the criteria I've established for using the superfecta-key betting strategy.

At Gulfstream

Race 10

The Forward Gal Stakes (G3) is a seven furlong dirt stakes for 3-year-old fillies and has attracted a field of 10.

The entire field exits dirt races - five at Gulfstream, two at Churchill and one each at Fairgrounds, Aqueduct and Keeneland. The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of four in five starts overall and three of four at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call nine times in 32 total starts. I anticipate a fast pace with the advantage to off pace runners and closers.

No. 6 Lynx has never been out of the money in five tries for high percentage trainer Carlos David and she has thrived in state-bred restricted stakes, including a win at today’s distance in all her starts at Gulfstream. She is your key runner at odds of 6-1.

No. 2 Twice as Sweet trained by Brendan Walsh has never been worse than fourth on four different dirt surfaces and her one turf run. This is her first try at seven furlongs and also her first try at Gulfstream, but clearly she can adapt to different situations. She should be off pace today and grind to a solid showing at odds of 10-1.

The Ian Wilkes saddled No. 9 Positano Sunset has three top four finishes in three tries and a grinding running style that should be well suited to the anticipated pace. She also had an about seven furlong second at Keeneland. Her odds are 9-2.

Rusty Arnold saddles No. 8 Red Carpet Ready, who has two wins in two tries in shorter sprints at Churchill Downs. She was not on the lead in her second start, which makes her more attractive after demonstrating some stalking ability. She is 4-1.

The Todd Pletcher-trained No. 3 Atomically comes out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, where she finished seventh after three-in-the money finishes. Those previous efforts included two wins, one of which was at today’s distance and track. She is a strong contender at 3-1.

The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 6 with 2, 3, 8 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.

Race 11

The Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3) is a 1 1/16 turf race for 3-year old fillies. A field of nine has been entered, including two trained by Pletcher.

Seven runners exit turf races – five at Gulfstream and one each at Aqueduct and Keeneland – with the final two runners coming out of a dirt race at Gulfstream and a synthetic race at Turfway. The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of two of every three starts overall and has only one out-of-the-money finish at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call three times in 40 total starts. I anticipate a slow pace with the advantage to those on or near the lead.

No. 1 Sweetlou’sgotaces has tactical speed and comes out of a minor stakes at a mile, where she wired the field after closing ground in her prior three starts, including two seconds. She clearly is tractable and is your key runner at odds of 4-1.

Jack Sisterson saddles No. 3 Malleymoo, who shows one win in Ireland on synthetic and a solid second at Gulfstream in a minor stake at a shorter distance on turf despite a poor start. He figures to be right there late at odds of 10-1.

No. 9 Stephanie’s Charm is a solid runner on turf and her last two turf runs both at Gulfstream were solid third- and second-place efforts at a shorter distance. She is going to be part of the mix late at odds of 12-1.

The Pletcher trained No. 5 Alpha Bella is making her second turf start after three dirt tries. That last effort was a just up win at a mile, where she was on pace throughout in a large field. She should be a strong stretch factor and is very tractable. Her odds are 8-1.

The likely betting favorite is the other Pletcher runner, No. 7 Cairo Consort, who has never finished worse than fourth in seven lifetime tries. She exits a minor stakes at Gulfstream where she was up in time late at a mile. The added distance will help and she should be a similar strong stretch factor as her stablemate at relatively short odds.

The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 1 with 3, 5, 7 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.

At Santa Anita

Race 8

This 1 1/8 turf race for 3-year-old maidens attracted a field of 11, including three trained by Michael McCarthy and two trained by  Papaprodomou.

Nine runners exit turf races at Santa Anita, with one each coming from  a Golden Gate synthetic event and a Del Mar dirt race.

The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of one in three starts overall and no runner has contested the distance. The runners have combined for one lead at the second call in 27 total starts. The lightly raced nature of the field makes this a very contentious race on paper. The advantage should be to forwardly placed runners.

John Shirreffs saddles No. 11 Eastbound, who ran balanced in his one turf try that was sandwiched around two dirt efforts, including a solid second where he did not have the best of starts. He is your key runner at odds of 6-1.

No. 9 Bolt Supremacy, one of the Papaprodomou runners, was close to a very fast pace in his one turf try also sandwiched around two dirt tries. The added distance and a slower pace puts him squarely in the mix early at generous odds of 20-1.

No. 7 Shadow Creek has improved in each try after debuting in Ireland, with one third place finish in three tries for Paddy Gallagher. If that pattern continues he will be a solid superfecta factor. His odds are 20-1.No. 6 Single Track Mind has been a strong stretch factor in three of his four U.S. tries after debuting in Great Britain, where he finished off the board in a stake. This runner figures to pass horses late at odds of 4-1 for Mark Glatt, who has been having an excellent meeting.

High percentage trainer Phil D’Amato sends out No. 1 San Anton for his second stateside start after four top-four turf finishes in Ireland. He ran well to just miss on debut in the U.S. and should make a solid stretch move late at odds of 7-2.

The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 11 with 1, 6, 7 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.

Race 10

A full field of 12 has been entered in the Thunder Road Stakes (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the turf course, including two trained by Papaprodromou.

These runners primarily exit turf races – six at Santa Anita, two at Del Mar and one each at Aqueduct and Keeneland – with the final two runners coming out of dirt races at Santa Anita and Del Mar. The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of three in five starts overall and two of three at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call one in 10 starts for races that show. I expect a moderate pace with the advantage to forwardly placed runners.

Joe Sharp ships in No. 3 Anaconda, who has raced across six different turf surfaces in his last 10 starts. With multiple layoffs and trainers he has six top three finishes and three wins. This runner clearly shows up and is extremely adaptable.. With three for three in-the-money finishes, he is your key runner at odds of 6-1.

The faster the pace the better for No. 6 Irideo, who is seven of 13 on turf and should look impressive late at attractive odds of 15-1.

No. 10 Dark Shift is trained by small stable trainer Conor Murphy, who has a creditable record. This runner is making his second stateside start after a solid record in Great Britain. He shows an eight of 13 in-the-money finishes on turf and should show improvement in his first start since a fifth at Keeneland in the fall. His odds are 8-1.

No. 9 Hit the Road is a solid eight of 11 at this distance on turf, with six wins. His stalking style will make him a grinding stretch factor at 5-1.

The speed of the speed is No. 8 Air Force Red, who has logged five wins in 10 turf starts and one from three starts at the distance. He is a solid player here for superfectas and should last for a share at relatively low odds.

The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 3 with 6, 8, 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

Total No. of Betting Interests in Super Wager



Difference in Dollars

Difference in Percentage





20 percent





33 percent





43 percent





50 percent

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.

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