These Saturday races at Oaklawn meet the criteria I've established for using the superfecta-key betting strategy.
This 1 1/16-mile low-level claimer on the dirt for 4-year-olds and up attracted a field of nine and includes two runners who have new trainers. All runners exit dirt races – eight at Oaklawn and one at Santa Anita.
The field has combined for an in-the-money record of one in three starts overall and one in four at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call four times in 88 total starts for races that show. I anticipate a slow pace with the advantage to runners on or near the lead.
No. 5 Mulberry Street shows some pace-pressing efforts and is a solid one of two in the money on dirt, as well as three of five record at the distance. This runner should be a strong factor throughout right off the lead and is your key runner at 3-1.
No. 3 Generator has shown the most speed in the field in his last 10 tries and should be on the lead from the start. This runner, who owns a slightly above average overall dirt record compared to this field, should be a factor till deep stretch at odds of 15-1.
Small-stable trainer Joe Petalino rarely wins, but when he does his horses pay extremely well. No. 9 Georgia Deputy is a slightly better than merry-go-round runner who has strong late pace ability. He should pass runners down the lane at odds of 20-1 and if the pace is faster than anticipated moves up to a solid placing.
No. 7 Hanks has a respectable record of five in-the-money finishes in 11 tries at Oaklawn. He will be solidly played and is a strong runner against this competition coming in off-the-claim for Norman McKnight.
The Robertino Diodoro runner No. 4 Go On comes out of a graded stake at Santa Anita, where he finished last. Making his first start for Diodoro, he must be included at low odds but will likely be an underlay.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 5 with 3, 4, 7 and 9. Total wager: $9.60.
Nine fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up line up for this six furlong claimer on the dirt, including one coming in off the claim. All runners exit dirt races – six at Oaklawn, two at Turf Paradise and one at Louisiana Downs.
The field has combined for an in-the-money record of two in five starts overall and nearly one in two at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call once in 10 starts for races that show. The pace should be slow with the advantage to runners on or near the lead.
No. 4 Distorted Secrets has solid early speed and is dangerous if uncontested on the lead. Her records at this distance and at Oaklawn are slightly better than the field average. With strong tactical speed, she is your key runner at odds of 8-1.
Jerry Hollendorfer sends out No. 5 Stylin N Profilin, who sports a record of six in-the-money finishes in eight tries at the distance. She is very competitive here at odds of 5-1.
Diodoro saddles No. 7 Time for Gold, who ships in from Turf Paradise. She has a pace pressing style, a solid record of two seconds and two thirds at the distance from four starts, and should inherit a placing at odds of 5-2.
No. 3 Lady Shaman is a grinder who has managed seven top four finishes in her last 10 starts. She should be pressing throughout at odds of 7-2.
No. 2 Legendary Gift has a record of six in-the-money finishes in seven tries at the distance and possesses tactical speed. She is saddled by small-stable trainer Lindsay Schultz, who has been having a solid meeting along with a very impressive record second start after the claim. Legendary Gift is 3-1.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 4 with 2, 3, 5 and 7. Total wager: $9.60.
The Whitmore Stakes (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs on the dirt attracted a field of 10, including two each trained by Chris Hartman and Steve Asmussen. All runners come out of dirt races: eight at Oaklawn and one each at Aqueduct and Sam Houston.
The field has combined for an in-the-money record of one in two starts overall and a two of three mark at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call one in four times for races that show. The pace should be very fast with the advantage to closers.
D. Wayne Lukas sends out No. 1 Spankster who clearly is a grinder and keeps coming at his competition throughout a race. The hot pace should be to his advantage, and he has a solid one in two in-the-money record overall and at the distance. He is your key runner at odds of 8-1.
Asmussen saddles No. 10 Morello, who does not appear as fast as a few of the runners not included here. But he makes only his second start as a 4-year-old and has run mostly at distances beyond six furlongs. He is three of four at six panels with two wins and will be kept off the pace with a lot of run late at odds of 15-1.
No. 3 Miles Ahead has a very strong overall record of 18 of 26 on dirt and 10 of 14 at the distance, with of eight of those winning efforts. He is a pace presser and looks like an overlay at odds of 15-1.
No. 2 Tejano Twist has never been off the board in seven starts at the distance and is the only true closer in the field. Expect him to be visually impressive late at odds of 3-1.
Asmussen also sends out No. 9 Cogburn, who has a ton of early speed but showed a slight off-pace move last time out in his first try as a 4-year-old. He enters this race with a record of three wins and two seconds in five tries at the distance and has the most upside in the field. His odds are 7-2.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 1 with 2, 3, 9 and 10. Total wager: $9.60.
The Essex Handicap (G3) for 4-year-olds and up contested at 1 1/16 on the dirt attracted a field of 10, including two trained by Brad Cox. Nine runners exit dirt races – six at Oaklawn, two at Fairgrounds and one at Gulfstream – with the final runner exiting a Keeneland turf race.
The field has combined for an in-the-money record of one in two starts overall and at the distance. These runners have combined for a lead at the second call one in six starts. I anticipate a fast pace with the advantage to off-pace runners.
Cox sends out No. 8 Tawny Port for his second 4-year-old start following eight consecutive graded races on synthetic and dirt. He should build upon his effort last time where he ran an even fifth. He is your key runner at overlay odds of 15-1.
No. 5 Classic Causeway makes his 4-year-old debut for Ken McPeek. He comes out of five consecutive graded stakes on turf, which were preceded by five graded races on dirt. This runner should be close to or on the lead and last for a share while showing some improvement in his first try on dirt since last June. His record at the distance is four for four with two wins. He is 15-1.
The truest closer in the field is No. 3 Rated R Superstar, a 10-year-old gelding who needs pace to run at which he should get. He is one of two overall and at the distance on dirt. His odds are 20-1.
No. 2 Vittorio makes his second start for trainer Bill Mott and first try at Oaklawn, having been lightly raced during three racing seasons in California. He ran solidly last time out and has finished in the top four seven times in a row. He is 3-1.
Lukas sends out the probable favorite, No. 10 Last Samurai who has improved at 4 and 5. He should be moving late coming in off a solid win in the Razorback (G3) at this track and distance. He will be an underlay for Lukas.
The play: 10-cent superfecta key using 8 with 2, 3, 5 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.