These Saturday races at Pimlico meet the criteria I've established for using the superfecta-key betting strategy.
This optional claimer on the dirt for 3-year-olds and up attracted nine runners including one trying a dirt route for the first time. Seven runners exit dirt races including four at Laurel, one each at Penn National, Charles Town and Keeneland with the final two exiting a synthetic event at Turfway and a Keeneland turf race.
The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of one in two starts overall and three in four at the distance. The runners have combined for a lead at the second call one time in every 11 starts for races that show. I anticipate a moderate to slow pace with the advantage to forwardly placed runners.
High percentage trainer Anthony Farrior sends out No. 7 Tate who has reeled off 10 consecutive top four finishes and is 20 of 29 in-the-money on dirt but rarely wins. He is your key runner at 10-1.
Graham Motion sends out No. 1 Serifos who is making his first 4-year-old start logging five in-the-money finishes in six dirt tries across three different dirt tracks including one win at Pimlico. He looks like an overlay at 15-1.
No. 8 Rustys Gfivefifty has a 10 of 12 in-the-money record on dirt and has finished in the top four each of his last ten tries. He is a solid player here with tactical speed and is 12-1.
Trainer Brittany Russell has saddled seven winners in 12 starts going into Friday’s card and sends out one of the lower priced runners in No. 3 Be Better who is two for two at the distance and five of eight overall on dirt. He is 5-2.
No. 5 Iywaan has been in the top three 20 of 24 starts at the distance and has been in the top three nine of his last 10 tries. He will be part of the mix throughout and is the likely betting favorite.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 7 with 1, 3, 5 and 8. Total wager: $9.60.
The Skipat Stakes is a six furlong dirt race for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up and this year’s edition attracted a field of 10 including two trained by John Robb. All runners exit dirt races including four at Laurel, two at Oaklawn and one each at Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Tampa Bay and Keeneland.
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 times in every five starts for races that show. The pace should be solid with the advantage to runners coming from off-the-pace.
Ken McPeek saddles No. 6 Gunning who is six of seven overall and notched a win in her one try at the distance with her one off-the-board performance in a graded stake. She will be passing the speed late and is your key runner at 6-1.
High percentage trainer Jorge Delgado ships in No. 9 Olivia Darling from Florida. Under his care this runner has four starts logging two wins and two second place finishes and overall she has three wins and a second at the distance. She is fast and should hang around for a share at odds of 8-1.
No. 7 Edie Meeny Miny Mo has faced some of the toughest competition in the field and come away with four wins and two seconds in 10 total starts. She has a lot of speed but has demonstrated some capacity to pass runners. She is 8-1.
Maryland based trainer Robb has a grinder in No. 4 Street Lute who is 17 of 22 overall on dirt with 10 wins. She should be mid-pack and have her presence felt late at odds of 12-1.
Ned Allard sends out No. 2 Beguine with three tries at the distance all top four finishes without a win. I expect her to inherit a placing from just off the pace at odds of 3-1.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 6 with 2, 4, 7 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.
The six furlong on dirt Maryland Sprint (G3) for 3-year-olds and up attracted a field of 10 including two trained by Brittany Russell. The entire field exits dirt races including five at Laurel, two at Oaklawn, and one each at Gulfstream, Tampa Bay and Keeneland.
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 at the second call one in three tries for races that show. The pace should be solid with the advantage to runners coming from off the pace.
No. 9 Hello Hot Rod has two tries at six furlongs logging a second and third and comes into this event running in seven dirt routes in his last nine dirt tries. He should be tracking the speed and have some late closing punch as your key horse at odds of 10-1.
No. 2 Prevalence has a history of disappointment and makes his first start at six furlongs. He has some speed and is turning back from dirt and turf routes. These factors coupled with the anticipated fast pace make him a likely factor late at odds of 8-1.
No. 10 Wondrwherecraigis may be the speed of the speed and while I anticipate a very fast pace he may be able to shake loose for trainer Russell and not look back coming into this with a record of at the distance of 10 in-the-money placings in 13 tries. He is 4-1.
No. 8 Straight No Chaser has the fewest starts in the field and is one of three 4-year-olds in the field. He has upside off his three of four dirt record including a third place in a graded stake along with two wins. His speed may wilt but he is too fast to ignore. His odds are 3-1.
Wesley Ward saddles the likely favorite No. 7 Nakatomi coming into this off nine consecutive top four finishes on dirt. He is a pressing style runner and will be part of the mix late. His odds are 5-2.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 9 with 2, 7, 8 and 10. Total wager: $9.60.
Nine line up for the mile on turf James W. Murphy Stakes exclusively for 3-year-olds including two trained by Wesley Ward. The field includes four trying turf for the first time including two who are also stretching out for the first time. Six runners exit turf races including four at Keeneland and one each at Aqueduct and Tampa Bay. Two runners exit dirt races at Churchill and Laurel with the final runner coming out of a Turfway synthetic race.
The field has combined for an in-the-money rate of two in three starts overall and a slightly better rate at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call one in every four starts. The pace should be moderate to fast with the advantage to runners just off the pace and closers.
Cox sends out No. 8 Wonderful Justice who had trouble in his last start a graded stake after logging two wins including a minor stake at a longer distance. He is a contender her at odds of 5-1 and is your key runner.
High Percentage trainer Arnaud Delacour has a runner in No. 3 A Western Yarn who has never been worse than fourth in four turf tries including three at this distance. He does have a lot of speed but does not need to lead and fits well as part of the mix at odds of 10-1.
Russell saddles No. 5 Circling the Drain who makes his first turf start. He comes into this race racing exclusively at Laurel logging five in-the-money finishes in six lifetime tries and figures to be moving late at odds of 8-1.
Ward sends out No. 1 Funtastic Again for his first start in a turf route after posting a three win one third place record across six total starts on turf, dirt and synthetic. He wired two fields at Turfway on synthetic at a mile and will try to bring that to turf from just off the lead given other runners in the field. This should result in a solid placing at odds of 3-1.
Motion saddles the likely favorite No. 9 Nagirroc who has never been out of the money in six lifetime starts all on turf including both sprints and routes. He has an off pace running style and looks like a very solid player at relatively low odds.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 8 with 1, 3, 5 and 9. 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.