These four Saturday races at Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita meet the criteria I've established for using the superfecta-key betting strategy.
A field of 11 will face off in this 1 1/16 claimer on the dirt for 4-year-olds and up. including two each trained by Robertino Diodoro and Nevada Litfin.
Six runners come in off-the-claim or with new trainers, and the entire field exits dirt races at Oaklawn, except for one runner coming out of an Indiana Downs turf race.
The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of two in five races overall and nearly one in two at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call four times in 110 total starts for races that show. I anticipate a slow pace with the advantage to runners on or near the lead.
No. 2 Holding Pattern has never run a distance of ground on dirt. But he has enough tactical speed to be a factor early and runs balanced enough that he should be a solid player throughout for low-percentage trainer Martin Villafranco. He has a solid one in two start in-the-money record on dirt and is your key runner at odds of 10-1.
One of the Diodoro runners is. No. 1 Cool Runnings coming in off the claim. While he is winless in three tries at the distance, he has a balanced running style similar to No. 2 Holding Pattern. This runner possesses strong tactical speed at times and sports an in-the-money rate on dirt similar to the field average. He is 12-1.
No. 4 Principe Guilherme has two wins and a second in four tries at the distance along with a pace pressing style that make him a solid superfecta factor at odds of 10-1.
No. 11 Twitty City is a closer coming in off-the-claim for small stable trainer Coty Rosin, who sports a solid positive return on investment in his 2022-2023 starts. This runner has been third or fourth at the second call in six of his last 10 tries and should be a solid player. He's also finished in the money in one of two tries at the distance. He is 3-1.
Another Diodoro runner coming in off-the-claim is No. 6 Gold Buckle, who has finished in the money in seven of nine tries at the distance, including seven top four finishes in his last 10 starts. He should be one of the more solidly backed runners at post time.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 2 with 1, 4, 6 and 11. Total wager: $9.60.
This 1 1/16 mile claimer on dirt for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up attracted a field of 11, including five runners coming in off the claim.
The entire field exits Oaklawn dirt races.
These runners have combined for an in-the-money rate of one in two starts overall and at the distance and have combined for a lead at the second call at a rate better than one in seven starts for races that show. I anticipate a solid pace with the advantage to midpack runners and closers.
No. 7 First Empress runs virtually the same race each start. She clearly demonstrates the ability to pass horses, sports nine top-four finishes in her last 10 starts and has an overall in-the-money record of nearly two of every three starts. She is your key runner at odds of 12-1.
No. 10 Close to Me has finished in the top four in seven of her last 10 tries and figures to be moving late. She also has a solid 11 of 16 in-the-money record at the distance. Her odds are 15-1.
No. 9 Xylophone is one of the true closers in the field and has finished fifth at this track her last two tries. The anticipated fast pace should make her a solid stretch factor and she has finished in the money in four of nine starts on dirt. She is 6-1.
Small stable positive return-on-investment trainer Lindsay Schultz is have a good meeting and she saddles one of the speedier runners, No. 6 Legendary Gift. This mare, claimed by Schultz out of her last start, should last for a share at odds of 7-2.
No. 3 Truly a Rocket is going to be on pace and has a win and third in two tries at the distance, along with five in-the-money finishes from nine starts at Oaklawn. She is going to be a factor throughout at likely underlay odds but must be considered a top four factor.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 7 with 3, 6, 9 and 10. Total wager: $9.60.
This one mile optional claimer on the dirt for 4-year-olds and up attracted a field of nine, including two trained by Steve Asmussen.
Seven runners exit dirt races - five at Oaklawn and one each at Aqueduct and Churchill - with the final two runners coming out of synthetic races at Turfway. The field has combined for an in-the-money rate greater than one in two starts overall and three of four at the distance.
These runners have combined for a lead at the second call one in five starts for races that show. I anticipate a fast pace with the advantage to closers.
No. 4 Tut’s Revenge is primarily a turf runner but does show two wins and three seconds in seven tries at the distance. He has a very balanced running style that makes him a solid stretch threat. He is your key runner at odds of 6-1.
No. 1 King Kumbalay is going to be a solid player from off the pace even though he has shown speed in some of his past efforts. This runner is six of nine on dirt and shows two wins and two seconds in five tries at the distance. He is 15-1.
Asmussen saddles No. 9 Silver Prospector, who has finished in fifth or sixth in six of his last 10 starts sandwiched around four in-the-money finishes. He has been facing tougher and should performer better against this field, which merits his inclusion at odds of 4-1.
No. 8 Super Stock, the other Asmussen runner, has met some quality fields in his career and also does not win much. He does show eight top- four finishes in his last 10 starts, however. He is going to be a grinding presence and a solid superfecta player at odds of 7-2.
David Jacobson has the likely speed of the speed in No. 5 Thomas Shelby. While I anticipate a challenge to his speed from the gate, there is a possibility that he could shake loose and not look back. He has a solid record on dirt, with 17 in-the-money finishes in 26 starts, and should be well bet at post time.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 4 with 1, 5, 8 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.
The hillside turf course is the setting for the about 6.5 furlong Sweet Life Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, including three trained by Doug O’Neill.
Eight runners exit Santa Anita turf races, two come out of Santa Anita dirt races and the final runner exits a Golden Gate synthetic run.
The field has a combined in-the-money rate of one in two starts overall and at the distance. Runners have combined for a lead at the second call one in six starts. I anticipate a moderate pace with the advantage to forwardly placed runners.
Phil D’Amato saddles No. 8 Excelia, who has a five of seven top four record on turf when combining her European and stateside efforts. She finished third last time out at this distance while pressing the pace and figures to be a solid stretch factor at odds of 6-1 as your key runner.
No. 9 Naughty Lottie ran evenly in her one turf try at a mile and does not have to improve much off that middle of the pack effort to be a solid stretch player. Prior to that effort she finished third in two dirt stakes along with an off-the-board finish in a graded stakes after breaking her maiden by open lengths. She is 12-1.
No. 10 Fun Money, one of the O’Neill runners, has a first and second in two turf tries and an overall nine in-the-money finishes in 10 tries. She has speed, but also has the capacity to pass runners and that makes her a solid player here at odds of 6-1.
The Peter Miller runner No. 7 Itzel is coming in off the claim after wiring a shorter turf sprint. He should be on the front end and show improvement for Miller, who shows favorable runs off the claim. He is 6-1.
No. 4 Manhattan Jungle finished second at a mile in a turf stakes and prior to that run was off-the-board in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf after arriving from Europe, where she had six top four finishes in seven turf tries all sprints. She is a solid player here at low odds.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 8 with 4, 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.