Superfecta Bets

For a moderate cash outlay, superfecta bets provide punters with the chance of winning big prizes. Superfecta wins in the 5-figure, even 6-figure, range are common especially on the biggest days in horseracing, namely, the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup.

Unlikely Yet Lucrative 

But a word to the wise: Superfecta betting requires a combination of knowledge and skills in reading the race as well as getting Lady Luck on your side. Beginners with dreams of cashing in by the thousands on a $2 bet should get their heads out of the sand.

This is because superfecta bets require punters to accurately guess the first four finishers (i.e., win, place and show plus the fourth-place finisher) in their exact order. Keep in mind that the sequence of selections for the four horses must exactly match the actual finish on the field.

The result: Winning a superfecta bet has lower chances of success than winning a trifecta bet, which requires picking the top three finishers in their exact order. Keep in mind that even a single mismatch between your four picks and the actual winners, such as Horse #3 placing third instead of second, will make your betting ticket useless.

Fortunately, winning a superfecta bet is possible! In fact, veteran punters favor the superfecta because of the high returns on investment (i.e., payoffs) from winning the bet. For example, in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, a superfecta $2 bet paid $29,046.40 for a 9/2 shot Street Sense while the 2005 Kentucky Derby yielded $864,253.50 for a $1 bet won by Giacomo with 6 winners in the stand.

Superfecta bets were originally offered at a $1 minimum bet, thus, preventing many small-time bettors to effectively cover the dozens of possible superfecta combinations. Times have changed, luckily, and many tracks now offer lower minimum superfecta bets, such as $0.10 and $0.20 wagers.

Variations Add to the Thrill

Superfecta bets come in several variations that add to the thrill of the game.

• Straight superfecta

This is the simplest type since winning the bet requires correctly guessing the final order of finish for the top four. Bettors like it because it requires the least number of combinations for the lowest amount of bet, thus, allowing casual bettors to take their chances. But a straight superfecta has one of the lowest chances for winning, too, so bettors are well advised to think about their picks. In an 8-horse field, there are 1,680 possible combinations.

• Superfecta boxes

This is a popular type of superfecta betting especially among casual bettors and handicappers because of its ease in picking the horses (i.e., little mental effort is involved). But keep in mind that superfecta boxes betting is cost-prohibitive, even dumb most of the time, because each of the possible combinations are rated as having an equal probability of becoming the winner – truly, as unrealistic as it comes.

The only time playing a larger superfecta box may have good payoffs is when one or two of the selected horses will finish out of the money. At other times, the straight superfecta provides better chances and returns.

• Superfecta wheels

This is a better alternative to superfecta boxes since the costs based on the number of probabilities are reduced. In a superfecta wheels bet, the punter keys one horse along with other horses to place in the remaining three positions, thus, lowering the costs especially when the bets are based on good handicapping.

For example, if you like Horse #3 to win or place and you can narrow down the field to five contenders, you can then play Horse #3 to win or place over the remaining five contenders in the second, third and fourth as well as in the first, third and fourth.

The bottom line: Superfecta betting has big-time payoffs but require intelligence to win.