How to Effectively Bet Superfectas

by Horstradamus

posted on October 15, 2007 in Educational Articles, Handicapping, Help/Educational Articles | 138 Comments >>

On occasion, we receive comments from customers asking how we take credit for a Superfecta in our Big ‘Uns if our top pick didn’t hit the board or if our 6th or 7th pick ran 3rd or 4th. People often underestimate the difficulty in correctly predicting a Superfecta. For this very reason, it is usually relatively costly (and extremely rewarding) to bet a Superfecta correctly. For those who are new to wagering on horse races, a Superfecta wager is when you are trying to pick the top 4 finishers in order. In this post, I would first like to discuss in general how to effectively bet a Superfecta. I will then explain how we typically determine a Superfecta “hit” in our Big ‘Uns and the suggested method of applying our predictions to making a Superfecta wager.

If you were asked what finish positions are the easiest to predict in a race, what do you think the answer is? The easiest positions to predict are typically the winner and then depending on the race, the horses that will run last and maybe 2nd to last. The next easiest position (but substantially harder) is to predict who will run 2nd. It then becomes exponentially harder to pick who will run 3rd and 4th. I am not saying that one can always predict the winner. However, regardless of the system, one will always be able to predict what horse will win a race more accurately than who will run 4th, for example.

Now if we take this one step further, you would assume that since it is easier to predict who will run 1st and 2nd, as opposed to 3rd and 4th, that you would want to “back-load” your Superfecta bet. In other words, you would use a smaller set of horses to run 1st and 2nd and a much larger set of horses to run 3rd and 4th. This is the most effective way to bet Superfectas. Some people expect that to predict a Superfecta correctly, you need to have the top 4 finishers as your top 4 picks. This is incorrect. First of all, although it occurs (see our Testimonials), it is very difficult to predict a Superfecta in your top 4 picks. Second of all, even if it did end up that our top 4 picks were the Superfecta, we would never suggest betting it in such a way. It is extremely difficult to hit a Superfecta straight or by boxing 4 horses. We would always recommend betting it as a partial with back-loading.

Typically, we list a Superfecta in our Big ‘Uns if the 1st and 2nd finishers are in our top tier (dark green) and if the 3rd and 4th finishers are in our top or 2nd tier (medium green). This is also the way we suggest betting the Superfecta. Using the top tier for 1st and 2nd and the top two tiers for 3rd and 4th. We further notate the Superfecta in our Big ‘Uns if certain circumstances are true. The label “COLD” is used if the top 4 finishers were our top 4 picks, in order. The label “BOX” is used if the top 4 finishers were our top 4 picks, in any order. The label “KEY” is used if the winner was our top pick. Please note that these labels are used to describe how the horses finished, and it does not mean that we suggested to bet the race in that way (as a box, for example).

Now for a perfect example, we look at the $13,038 Superfecta we listed as a hit at Calder Race Course on October 13 in the 11th race. From a casual glance, it looks like we didn’t predict it correctly. You might say, “You had 3 horses in your top tier, your top pick wasn’t even on the board, and the 3rd and 4th finishers were ranked 7th and 6th. This isn’t a real hit.” But now we look into the details…

The first thing to note is that there are two coupled entries involved in our top two tiers (1/1A and 2/2B). Because of this, there are actually less horses involved when placing the bet. Second of all, if you followed the guidelines as mentioned above, your Superfecta ticket would look like: 1,8,6/1,8,6/1,8,6,7,2,4/1,8,6,7,2,4. This back-loaded partial would cost $72 for a $1 Superfecta ticket. This may seem like a costly investment. However, that is the reality of Superfectas (especially in a wide open field such as this one). To effectively bet them, you have to outlay a bit more money but the reward is well worth it. For practice, you can try betting at the ever-growing number of tracks that allow 10-cent Superfecta wagers. If this was allowed here, this bet would have only cost $7.20.

The bottom line with any wager is the return on investment (ROI). In this case of our seemingly far-fetched Superfecta prediction, you would have made over 8950% profit on your $72 bet. And we didn’t even need our top pick to hit the board!

138 Responses to “How to Effectively Bet Superfectas”

  1. Reggie says:

    I’d given up on supers until a 20 year veteran handicapper showed me the concept of “back loading”. It has made all the difference since. It offers insurance against gate and trip troubles that commonly knock out your tip tier picks. Great Article! Thanks!

  2. Bob says:

    I’m very new at this and don’t understand this Superfecta ticket looking like this: 1,8,6/1,8,6/1,8,6,7,2,4/1,8,6,7,2,4. To me it looks like double bets… 1,8,6 1,8,6 then 1,8,6,7,2,4 1,8,6,7,2,4…

    Sorry for asking stupid questions but i’ll never find out if i don’t ask. I’m beginning to really enjoy horse racing now that I have the money to do it. Thanks to anyone that replies!

  3. Phil says:

    Hey “Bob”, it means horses 1,8, or 6 getting first / horses 1,8, or 6 getting second / horses 1,8,6,7,2, or 4 getting third / and horses 1,8,6,7,2, or 4 getting fourth.

  4. Nelson says:

    I never completed looking at your site. What I am looking for is to see your picks in chronilogical order per each track. Like the date and track and each days races in order and the amount bet on the superfecta and then won. Then the win percentage and return on investment and a dailly running total on each track.
    Can anybody give a testimonial of results like this they are having.
    I feel your results are scatter and even though some members will hit a big one etc. with out a actuall score card I think most would lose money because yo would say I could have had that one it I played that track this time etc.
    Unless you can show results like this or someone can give testimonials that they are actually winning following the picks day to day and betting the way you are supposed to as you suggest.
    If i coul see results showed this way with winning long term proof I would sign up in a heart beat but not unitl I get some kind of confirmation of resluts.
    Also what about offering a parlay wager of two winning bets for the small bettor?

  5. Horstradamus says:

    Nelson, if you sign up for your free account with us, you can browse our COMPLETE results at every track we cover for the past 12 months. We have nothing to hide.

  6. mac says:

    like bob above i didnt understand the wager either, phil does a great job explaining it, however after doing the math i dont see how its a $72 wager.
    how do you actually “say” it to a teller, and, how does it calculate?
    this is interesting to me and will definitely educate.
    frankly all i do is box horses for exactas and triples and this might actually present a new aproach for me.
    thank you

  7. Nancy says:

    I think the bet would be placed as:
    Superfecta Wheel on Race XX
    1,8,6 WITH 1,8,6 WITH 1,8,6,7,2,4 WITH 1,8,6,7,2,4

  8. mac says:


    sounds as simple as phil’s explanation.
    i guess i was making it more complicated than it is.
    you learn something new everyday
    thank you

  9. frank eloy says:

    You are absolutely on mark about back loading.
    The objective of a race is to win. Horses do not run for 4th or 3rd they “finish” 4th or 3rd.
    I know 4 guys who do nothing but key horses for 4th. Yum, yum. They are the suckers that just add to the pari mutual pool for others to win the money they have bet. Even if a favorite were used ALL the time as a single in the win hole one would at least have the winner about 31-33% of the time. Single a horse in 4th as a key might result in that horse finishing 4th about 5% of the time…if one is really lucky.

  10. Horstradamus says:

    Mac, it can sometimes becomes difficult to calculate the wager cost of exotics when you have numerous combinations. You can use our free exotic wager cost calculator here:

  11. Matt D says:

    this is a great article with great comments and questions. I have learned a lot with this.

    Through my brief research, I have found that its almost a 100% guaranteed win if the top six horses are green/light green and the 7th horse is Yellow/Red. However this doesnt seem to happen very often. BUT, if you could concentrate on those few races with the above strategy, I would think that one could do quite well.

    What do you all think?


  12. Matt D says:

    anyone have a similiar strategy for trifectas?

    if so, do you use it? how well has it worked?


  13. James A says:

    I am so glad I finally figured out how to actually say what I want to bet (with the super wheels)… Can’t wait to get to the track tonight.

  14. Matt D says:


    how did you end up doing at the track this weekend?

  15. Bob says:

    Phil, Thank you very much! It does make sense now. It only looked confusing! lol…

    I’ll try it tomorrow at the Arlington Million. Thanks again, HUGE HELP!!!

  16. Bob says:

    Had an awesome, awesome time at the Million and even kept my head above water! lol.. By the end 8 of the race i was up a G but then I got cocky and lost most of it. I’ll tell you what, I went off these picks and did a lot of Exactas, Trifecta and Superfecta Wheels and really came out ahead. Last year I had nothing to go off of and lost a dime. Big, Big difference, Thank you for all your help. Awesome site!!! I even feel like I know what I’m doing, but I’ll still be asking questions. lol… Thanks man, I can’t thank you enough or this site!

  17. AlexM says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  18. felinis says:

    This sounds pretty good. Let’s take a look at Superfectas at Del Mar for July, 2008.

    WP won 21 $2.00 Superfectas, although the one on 16 July required a third eschlon horse. Total payoffs were $41437. There were 110 races in those 14 race days. That is a payoff of $1973.14/Race.

    But what did those races cost to bet? Lets start with the winners:
    To win the 21 races required 10 boxes of from 4 to 8 horses. The other 12 races required back-loaded partial wheels, most of which were of the 3/7 or 3/8 type. Altogether it cost $23460 to win these races.

    How would we know whether th be a box or a paratial wheel before the face? We would not.

    Anyway, it cost us an average of $1117.14 to win each race. Looking good so far –
    $1973.14 vs. $1117.14.

    But what about the other 89 losing races? What did they cost? We can only guess. The winners cost us $1117.14 each so 89 X 1117 = $99425.71. for all 110 races it cost us $122885.70. But we did win $41000.

  19. Horstradamus says:

    Fellnis, our listed Big ‘Uns are automatically chosen based on certain criteria. We do not arbitrarily pick hits to list on our site. As far as Superfectas, the cost of the ones we list as hits would never be close to the $1117 you calculated. For Superfectas, there are three methods the system checks to determine a hit. These methods are common betting strategies that our customers typically employ:

    1) Key – Our top pick wins, and the next 3 finishers are from our next 4 horses (regardless of the tiers). This would cost $24 for $1. These type of hits are listed as (KEY).
    2) Box – The top 4 finishers are in our top 4 selections. This would cost $24 for $1 and is listed as (BOX). I do not know where you saw boxes from 4 to 8 horses. We only consider a 4 horse box as a hit.
    3) TIer based – This is a little more complicated as the rules are based on the number of horses in each tier. However, in the cases with 3 horses in the top tier (as you mentioned), the winner AND place horse must come from the top tier. Therefore, if there are 4 or 5 horses behind, the partial would be a 3/3/7 or 3/3/8 structure, not 3/7 or 3/8. In the case of 3 horses in the top tier and 5 horses behind, it would cost $180 for $1. This can still be a feasible wager for most people, particularly with the availability of 10-cent Superfectas. There is nothing wrong with investing $18 to make a few hundred or even $1000+.

    Our Big ‘Uns are not unrealistic at all. Our customer testimonials speak for themselves. In some cases, we get testimonials for scores that were not even listed as Big ‘Uns (for example, a 5 horse Superfecta box).

    One more important point to realize is that you will not be profitable betting every race, regardless of how good a system is. Even though we rate every race on the card, you need to pick your spots and try to find value plays and avoid races that are too wide open. This is even more the case with difficult wagers such as Superfectas. If someone wants to be successful, they are not going to bet the Superfecta in every race during the Del Mar meet.

  20. Jonathan Phillips says:

    What tracks offer 10 cent and 20 cent superfecta betting and do I have to be at the track to bet it? I only go to simulcasting when TBD (tampa Downs) is off season.

    can I wager these cheaper superfectas through a self serve betting terminal? Speaking of which, is there a place on the internet that would prep me for using self serve terminals in general so I’m not lost when I get to the races?


  21. Horstradamus says:

    Jonathan, most tracks today offer 10 cent Superfectas. On our selection form, we notate this on the top of each race. You don’t need to be at the track to bet it as most online wagering sites also accept 10 cent Superfecta wagers. The self serve terminals do take 10 cent Superfecta wagers if the host track accepts them. Self serve terminals are usually pretty straightforward to use (if you know the basics of wager types and combinations). A good primer on wager types and combinations can be found here:

  22. Ruben Urbina says:

    Please send information on how to Bet superfectas to

  23. joe says:

    this big uns does not seem real i want to win big like the big uns how do i do it seems like false advertising

  24. Horstradamus says:

    All of the Big ‘Uns we list are definitely hittable. Check out some of the customer testimonials we received:

  25. Garett says:

    The only problem I have with the superfectas listed on the Big ‘Uns list is that very often they payoff listed for a $2 wager far exceeds the pool size that is also listed. It is impossible to collect more money than that is actually in the para-mutuel pool!

  26. Horstradamus says:

    Garett, this is due to the fact that all the payoffs in our database are normalized to $2. We are planning on tweaking the Big’Uns to display the payoff according to the appropriate bet amount.

  27. Garett says:

    Thanks for the update I realize this is no easy feat.

  28. Mark says:

    Great article on Superfectas. The Super High 5 is now availible at the Califorina tracks. Winning Ponies has several big hits with this bet. Can you please give an effective strategy on betting Super High 5’s?


  29. w. womack says:

    no one ever say how you give the bet to the tellre what do you say when you palce the
    partial wheel backload? can you give example?

  30. w. womack says:

    how do you give the bet to the teller? when giving apartial wheel backload bet or a full wheel.
    please give an example.

  31. Horstradamus says:

    WW, if you wanted to bet a $1 Superfecta partial such as 1,8,6/1,8,6/1,8,6,7,2,4/1,8,6,7,2,4 you would say:
    “$1 Superfecta 1 8 6 WITH 1 8 6 WITH 1 8 6 7 2 4 WITH 1 8 6 7 2 4″

    If you want to wheel one of the legs such as the 4th leg, you would say “ALL” for that leg.

  32. jhonea999 says:

    Couple questions: what do you mean when you say a race is too wide open? Also if you purchase a selection do you give a reccomendation of how to bet or do you just give the tiers as shown in the results? If there is no reccomendation on each bet is there a standard reccomendation? For instance… if there are 3 dark green, 3 lighter green, and 3 lightest green, you should bet trifecta on the top tier, superfecta box on the top and second tier or something along those lines. thanks in advance.

  33. Horstradamus says:

    jhonea999, a race would be wide open if there are 3 horses in the top tier, 5+ horses in the 2nd tier and the horses in the 2 tiers are close in rating figures. We do not give actual bets to make as our customers have different preferences and risk tolerance. However, our tier-based system can be applied to any wager type. In your example of 3 dark green, 3 lighter green, and 3 lightest green, we would bet the Trifecta by using the 1st tier for the 1st and 2nd positions and the top 2 tiers for the 3rd position.

  34. tvassios says:

    I purchased your tiers for the derby, can you send me a sample for the superfectaa and tifecta on how i would tell the teller using the tiers for the derby.

  35. amarillo1186 says:

    help help – I would like to do this for the preakness today! I have picked my4 horses but dont know what to do now thanks!

  36. billbetz says:


  37. Horstradamus says:

    Bill, it is not often the case where the whole field falls into only 2 tiers. If that is the case, it is a good indication that the race is very tight and is a good candidate to skip. The key to successful wagering is to be selective with your spots and not try betting every race. In the case of 3 horses in the top tier, you can still make profitable Superfecta wagers by keying 3 top tier horses in the first 2 spots. If you want to narrow it down, you can either take the top 2 horses in the top tier or look for top tier horses that sport the “Has Improved” icon. Horses that have that icon often run a better race than they did previously.

  38. Barry says:

    Hello Horst,

    I hit a $1 Trifecta box on horses 1,4,7…..and there were only four horses remaining: 2,3,5 and 6. Although I have to stay within my budget, what is the most economical way I could have used 2,3,5,6 for a shot at the Superfecta? It ended up 4,1,7,5 for the Superfecta.

  39. Richard ( horseplayer ) Smith says:

    You are right. The leverage on Superfecta payouts are great. With new .10 cent Superfectas available, it is even greater. Being able to combine more than four horses and increase chances of winning. I have won various .10 cent Superfectas but by using key horse systems,I developed myself. Now your simple system seems even more logical than mine (using 3 or more horses to key in 1rst and 2nd, as opposed to my one horse key system ) increasing the possibilities of winning with even less money in some cases wagered. I will try your system and see what happens. There are various Superfecta systems for sell that I have yet to buy. But The ones I developed and what you have offered cost me no money. Belive me if and when I hit big with that “little” advice you have just given, I will give you a gift of graditude compensation for your giving me that tip of using 3 or more horses to come in 1rst and 2nd with those same horses combined with more on “the back end”. You have my email. Thanks A-Million ( literally ). From Richard (horseplayer) Smith

  40. Brian says:

    I work an IRS window at Saratoga and routinely have to explain the backloaded Super to beginning customers. It is the only real way to hit supers. Thanks so much for a great site and I refer customers to you guys often. Keep up the good work.
    Now if you could only write an article explaining the situations where a Quinella is advantageous to an exacta box I would be forever indebted.

  41. Horstradamus says:

    Brian, thanks for the kind words! That is a great idea; an article about Quinellas vs. Exacta boxes. We will post one up soon…

  42. Dave says:

    Thanks for your advice on back-loading Superfectas. I usually just box 5 horses for $120 (or $12 in the 10-cent superfecta tracks) but your back-loading strategy gives you a better chance for less money. I’m heading out to Del Mar tomorrow so I’ll let you know if it works…. thanks! :)

  43. Tim says:

    How do I sign up?

  44. Ronnie says:

    Does anyone know of a online racebook wherei canbet .10 & .20 Superfectas??

  45. Horstradamus says:

    Ronnie, sites such as allow 10-cent minimum Superfecta wagers.

  46. lemuel says:

    I see you say most online sites do 10 cent supers…can you be specific or recommend one…I have looked and looked…can’t find one…thanks

  47. Horstradamus says:

    Services like and offer 10 cent supers.

  48. Peter R says:

    I have a $ 24.00 betting System for Superfecta’s…..It Requires the DRF Quick Sheet…….I put $ 24.00 in 10 c Supers….Key one horse 1st 2nd 3rd & 4th……with 5 others………Does show a good ROI…
    Peter R….Edmonds, WA.

  49. Lu says:

    any off shore sports books that offer 10 cent supers?

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