July 19, 2024

How To Bet the Preakness Stakes Superfecta

Justify may face seven challengers in the Triple Crown's middle jewel

One of the biggest overlays in the history of superfecta betting occurred in the 2018 Kentucky Derby when the Justify-Good Magic-Audible-Instilled Regard combination returned better than 19,000-to-1.

That might not seem like a lot considering 116,280 combos available in a 20-horse field, but the trifecta (6,840 combos) paid 140-to-1, which means Instilled Regard was also 14o-to-1 to finish fourth behind those horses. That’s a pretty generous price considering he was “only” 85-to-1 to *win* the race!

Unfortunately, there’s less room for spreading in this year’s Preakness Stakes, which at 8 horses entered is 60% off the Derby as far as win options, 85.3% off in exacta options (56/380),  95% off in trifecta options (336/6,840), and 98.5% off in superfecta options (1,680/116,280).

All that is to say it’s tough to see any superfecta paying $19,000 because your bomb scenario is 8th choice over 7th choice over 6th choice over 5th choice. In the Derby that’d have been Vino Rosso over Magnum Moon over Good Magic over Audible. Does that Pay $19,000? What’s it pay if it’s Sporting Chance over Diamond King over Tenfold over Lone Sailor?

Put a different way, the Derby superfecta was favorite over 6th choice over 5th choice over longest shot on the board. In this year’s Preakness that’s probably Justify over Tenfold over Lone Sailor over Sporting Chance. That’d come back a nice number for sure considering a 2-to-5 shot on top, but probably not the type of payout you’ll be talking for years to come about you still can’t believe it paid so much.

So where is the value? I think part of it comes from taking the time to construct tickets that best cover the overlays. In the Derby, the conventional wisdom is that “anyone can finish fourth”. That’s probably true in the Preakness as well where you only have to beat 4 horses home instead of 16, but there’s less value in doing so because almost everyone is able to do that. I.e. as simple as it sounds after the fact to use ALL behind a 140-to-1 trifecta, that’s $102 if you had the top 3 exactly (and still a 10x kicker on what a $17 trifecta would have paid).

Anyway, I’m willing to use ALL in spots that I’m so right elsewhere that I won’t let horses like Sporting Chance beat me in fourth, but the purpose of my bets will be to really make it count if Bravazo, Diamond King, Lone Sailor, and/or Tenfold run well.

Yes, I realize that’s half the field, but it is bottom half in some respects or even the bottom fifth considering if they were a 4-horse entry the price would be 4-to-1 at lowest.

Tenfold is the biggest key to a potentially big payout. There’s a chance he could be the longest shot on the board (2-to-1 current price be damned), and of the quartet I actually like him most to win especially versus his odds.

Justify and Good Magic are both win threats, and while I think Justify is a more likely winner, I’ll probably use in close to equal strength.

Here’s how I’m compartmentalizing my picks for vertical wagering purposes (this is separate from how I plan to play multi-race wagers):

A: Justify & Good Magic

B: Bravazo, Diamond King, Lone Sailor, Tenfold

C: Quip, Sporting Chance

And here’s how I’m playing each group in the vertical exotic wagers:

Box my Bs in an exacta ($12 per $1)

Box my Bs in a trifecta ($12 per $0.50)

Box the As and Bs in a superfecta ($36 per dime)

Superfecta part wheels ($120 total)

A with B with A, B with A, B, C ($16)

A with B with A, B, C with A, B ($16)

B with A, B with A, B with A, B, C ($40)

B with A, B with A, B, C with A, B ($40)

A with B, C with A with B ($4)

A with B, C with B with A ($4)

#6 Tenfold keys ($68 total)

A, B with Tenfold with A, B, C with A, B, C ($12)

A, B with A, B, C with Tenfold with A, B, C ($12)

A with B, C with A, B, C with Tenfold ($5)

Tenfold with A, B with A, B, C with A, B, C ($15)

B with Tenfold with A, B, C with A, B, C ($9)

B with A, B, C with Tenfold with A, B, C ($9)

B with A, B with A, B, C with Tenfold ($6)

All these wagers total $248 with the opportunity to hit for multiple times without pressing too much on the dreaded chalk quinella of Justify & Good Magic.

I likely will press on any combos that don’t involve the As in the top two spots. E.g. the first ticket under part wheels is A w/ B w/ A, B w/ A, B, C. I could see going A w/ B w/ A w/ B, C for another $4.

Going through all these machinations extracts value from the more common approach of just boxing horses or the strict pyramid approach of playing Justify and Good Magic 1-2 without any real plan for who can be third or fourth. That 20-to-1 looks good in third until it’s behind a 3-to-1 exacta and you really only up getting 5-to-1 (at best) for getting the show horse right from the remaining 6 horses.

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