When chalky outcomes appears likely, consider the superfecta

October 10th, 2023

Some bettors avoid playing races that seem likely to unfold in predictable fashion because the payoffs are bound to be small. But sometimes the most likely outcome can pay surprisingly well, particularly if you embrace exotic wagers like the superfecta.

Consider the 2023 Canadian International (G1) held over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Woodbine. The rich stakes drew eight entries, but four horses—English Conqueror, Starting Over, British Royalty, and Dynadrive—were significant longshots in the betting.

The other four entrants could be sorted into a pretty much clear-cut pecking order. European raiders had dominated the Canadian International in the dozen years leading up to the 2023 edition, suggesting the talented Europeans Nations Pride and Royal Champion would be tough to deny at Woodbine.

Of the pair, the 2-5 favorite Nations Pride ranked as by far the more likely winner. Trainer Charlie Appleby had enjoyed abundant success at Woodbine through the years, and Nations Pride had already shown an ability to compete at a high level in North America when winning the 2022 Saratoga Derby (G1). Just as importantly, Nations Pride owned a 6-5-1-0 record racing 1 1/4 miles.

Royal Champion (5-1) was an obvious choice for second place after winning the 1 1/4-mile Wolferton S. at Royal Ascot and placing in the 1 5/16-mile York (G2). Like Charlie Appleby, trainer Roger Varian had enjoyed strong success with his occasional North American starters.

This left Adhamo (11-2) and Palazzi (10-1) as the best of the North American home team. Adhamo was a proven Grade 1 winner, having taken first prize in the 2022 United Nations (G1) racing 1 3/8 miles. Palazzi wasn’t as accomplished, but had showcased an affinity for the Canadian International course and distance when winning the Singspiel (G3) in his previous start.

A $2 win bet on Nations Pride wouldn’t have yielded a giant return when he pounced to victory by 2 1/4 lengths; the payoff was $2.80. Nor was the $2 exacta with Royal Champion in second place overly valuable; it paid $7.70.

But when Adhamo and Palazzi followed the script to finish third and fourth, the $2 superfecta returned $74.50. That’s right—betting the top four favorites in order of their odds would have yielded a 36-1 return on investment. Even if you had boxed Adhamo and Palazzi for third and fourth place, you would have still gotten an 18-1 return.

Not every race unfolds as predictably as the 2023 Canadian International, but neither does every race appear so clear-cut beforehand. When you’re confident you can hit a superfecta using only one or two combinations, give it a try—even if the outcome is chalky, the payoff can be enticing.