Superfecta key: Here's your chance to go deep in the Woodward

Superfecta key: Here's your chance to go deep in the Woodward
Photo: Carlos J .Calo/Eclipse Sportswire

The Grade 1, Woodward Stakes on Sunday at Aqueduct meets the criteria I've established for using the superfecta-key betting strategy.

Race 7

The Woodward Stakes (G2), postponed from Saturday due to bad weather, is run at 1 1/8 on dirt for 3-year-old and up and has attracted a field of 10, including three trained by Linda Rice and two trained by Chad Brown. All runners exit dirt races - five at Saratoga, two at Pimlico and one each at Charles Town, Aqueduct and Meydan in Dubai.

The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of two in three starts overall and three of four at the distance.

These runners have combined for a lead at the second call two of every seven tries for races that show. The pace should be moderate to fast with the advantage to off-the-pace runners.

No. 1 Charge It, trained by Todd Pletcher, has run only one poor race in 11 starts, and that came in the 2022 Kentucky Derby. He is a model of consistency, with nine top four finishes in his other 10 tries, and is your key runner at 7-2.

The Rice runner no. 6 Costa Terra has won two of 13 starts and is making his fifth start for Rice since shifting from the Steve Asmussen barn. He has improved under Rice and seems to be on the upswing. Along with the ability to make solid late moves, that makes him a player here at 15-1.

Canadian based trainer Josie Carroll saddles no. 8 Tyson for his second dirt try after four wins and a second from five tries in Canada on synthetic. That last run was a solid third in a graded marathon event at Saratoga. He should improve with the cut-back in distance in his second two-turn dirt try and is lightly raced. His odds are 5-1.

The international shipper is no. 3 Algiers, who has raced primarily on turf but is five of six on dirt with three wins. He sports a solid 15 of 21 in-the-money record, including seven wins. He's also in sharp form, with two wins and in second in his last three tries, all in Dubai on dirt. He is 6-1.

The Chad Brown trained no. 4 Zandon has failed as a huge favorite in two of his last four starts. But while he has won only two of 12 starts on dirt, he has never finished worse than fourth. He should be in the money and has to be included in the superfecta, but at short odds is a bad candidate for a win bet. 

The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 1 with 3, 4, 6 and 8 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 overbet 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




$ diff.

% diff.





















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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