Beginner’s Bet of the Week: The Superfecta

This week marks the latest installment of a new series on America’s Best Racing, the Beginner’s Bet of the Week sponsored by NYRA Bets. Each week, this blog will explore a new type of bet by explaining exactly what it is, how best to use that bet, and by putting the wager into practice in a race.

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This week’s feature focuses on the superfecta, the toughest of the so-called “vertical” bets. The objective of a superfecta is to pick the top four finishers in a race. There must be at least five wagering interests in a race for a superfecta to be offered.

The difficulty of hitting a superfecta is somewhat balanced by its low minimum wager. It’s unique among bets in that it can be played for as little as 10 cents. The bet cannot be placed with a teller at a 10-cent denomination; only through a self-service terminal or an ADW.

Because of its low minimum, a 10-cent superfecta sometimes does not pay as much as a 50-cent trifecta, or even a $1 exacta. Last Saturday at Belmont Park, the median 10-cent superfecta payoff was $19.60, in contrast to the $28.55 median on the $1 exacta and the $33.50 on the 50-cent trifecta. Although the percentage ROI is higher, the overall profit on a 10-cent superfecta usually isn’t that high.

The best time to play a superfecta is in a race with a large, wide-open field. Those races have the highest potential for chaos, as longshots sometimes sneak into third and fourth and cause massive payoffs. A textbook example came in the second race at Belmont last Saturday. The top four finishers went off at, in order, 6.70-1, 10-1, 80.75-1, and 22.70-1. The 10-cent superfecta paid more than $4,700, far and away the highest payoff of the day.

It’s unlikely that anyone could have conceived that the 80-1 shot, Proper Grammer, could have finished third in that race. Much like in trifecta betting, many players will “key” their best horses on top in first and second, using only one or two horses in those spots, and “spread” in the third and fourth spots. They’ll use a bunch of horses in those spots, even those who they don’t think have a chance, in the hopes of catching a longshot and making a big score.

Another common method of playing the superfecta is playing a “box”, where the horses selected can finish in the top four in any order. If you play a superfecta box with the #1, #2, #3, and #4, as long as those four horses all finish in the top four, no matter the order, you’ll win. A four-horse superfecta box costs $2.40 for 10 cents (4 X 3 X 2 X 1 divided by 10).

Saturday’s Aqueduct Superfecta Play

The tenth race at Aqueduct on Saturday is a New York-bred maiden claiming race for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs on the dirt. It’s a very wide-open race with the potential for a chaotic result.

I’ll use two horses in the top two spots. #7 Half Birthday battled on the lead with an odds-on favorite in her debut last out and held on to finish third. She ran easily the best race of the four first-time starters in that race, and should get better second time out. #10 Classic Miss has never run in a maiden claiming race before, as she’s made her first three starts in the tougher maiden special weight division. She was a solid second with a career-top speed figure last out at Finger Lakes.

In the second spot, I’ll use those two, plus #4 Tap the Heart, a first-time starter for Todd Pletcher who has had some good recent workouts. She could run a big race first out.

In the third and fourth places, I’ll use nine horses, throwing in #1, #3, #5, #6, #8, #9, #10.

The total ticket looks like this:

1st: 7, 10

2nd: 4, 7, 10

3rd: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

4th: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

This ticket costs $16.80 for 10 cents. With this ticket, I’m hoping to cash in on my best opinions at a decent price, while allowing the possibility for a surprise result underneath. If #7 or #10 win, #4, #7, or #10 finish second, and anyone except #2 or #11 finish third and fourth, I’ll cash.