05/08/2008 1:59AM

Superduper High Five


It would cost you only $60,000 to claim all 12 horses entered in Thursday's ninth race at Churchill -- less than the $95,040 cost of an all-all-all-all-all Super High Five ticket on the race.

It's possible that more will be bet on Thursday's SHF than has ever been bet in a single-race pool on a field of $5,000 claimers. The pentafecta bet, which carried over $331,928 from the Kentucky Derby to Wednesday's nightcap, attracted an additional $661,201 Wednesday -- more than the win, place, show, exacta and trifecta pools on the race combined -- and went unhit again after a 49-1/9-2/10-1/22-1/8-1 finish. So there will be $866,712 to seed the pool. If another $1.4 million is bet Thursday, there would be a potential $2 million payoff. So maybe buying the race for $95k isn't the worst idea in the world if you happen to have an extra $95k burning a hole in your pocket.

I'll be playing for at least $94k less than that, but at a $1 minimum and 95,040 possible combinations, it becomes an expensive play pretty quickly. Here are the costs of some conventional approaches:


12-horse box: $95,040
11-horse box: $55,440
10-horse box: $30,240
9-horse box: $15,120
8-horse box: $ 6,720
7-horse box: $ 2,520
6-horse box: $ 720
5-horse box: $ 120

Key 1 on top of 11: $7920
Key 1 on top of 10: $5040
Key 1 on top of 9: $3024
Key 1 on top of 8: $1680
Key 1 on top of 7: $ 840
Key 1 on top of 6: $ 360
Key 1 on top of 5: $ 120
Key 1 on top of 4: $ 24

Other than the bottom rungs of those lists, these are not exactly invitingly affordable bets for most players. Here are two alternatives to consider:

1)A key to win and a second key to run second or third. Let's say those horses are #1 and #2, and you want to use five other horses underneath. You could do this for $120 by buying the following two tickets:

$1 SHF: 1/2/3,4,5,6,7/3,4,5,6,7/3,4,5,6,7 = $60
$1 SHF: 1/3,4,5,6,7/2/3,4,5,6,7/3,4,5,6,7 = $60

2) Use three keys -- one must win and the other two must both finish fourth or better. You could do this for $216, using four other horses underneath, as follows:

$1 SHF: 1,2,3/1,2,3/1,2,3/4,5,6,7/4,5,6,7 = $72
$1 SHF: 1,2,3/1,2,3/4,5,6,7/1,2,3/4,5,6,7 = $72
$1 SHF: 1,2,3/4,5,6,7/1,2,3/1,2,3/4,5,6,7 = $72

3) Desperate to hit the all-button for 5th? You could key a winner, with four others in positions 2-3-4, and then roll the dice for fifth as follows:

$1 SHF 1/2,3,4,5/2,3,4,5/2,3,4,5/ALL = $192

Wednesday's unhit SHF involved 11 maiden claimers with a combined record of 0-for-53. The dozen in Thursday's finale have a combined record of 69-for-351, a bit more form to go on, but it's a very tough race. Half the field is dropping in price, and they made their most recent starts at seven different tracks: Beulah, Keeneland, Mountaineer, Oaklawn, River Downs, Tampa and Turfway. Good luck.

The people who put over Future Prospect, the New York-bred $100.40 winner of Wednesday's 9th, apparently didn't wheel their horse in the SHF, a $5,040 play that would have returned $866,712. For their sake I hope they bet a little to win at 49-1, since they also blew their New York-bred maiden conditions winning an open maiden claimer at Churchill that carried a $14k purse. Future Prospect ran well enough to win most statebred maiden claimers in New York, which have $24k purses, or even statebred maiden-specials, which go for $44k these days.

Update 12:10 pm: One scratch so far in CD race 9 -- #2 Put Up Or -- brings the cost of an all-all-all-all-all ticket down to a mere $55,440. With a $2 million payout, you'd get your money back (before withholding and taxes) if there were 38 winners. Fewer than 38 correct tickets and you show a profit. The CD main track is listed as "good."

Update 5:41 pm: Turns out, if you bought the race for $55k, you lost 51 percent of your investment, before taxes: The old 4-3-7-11-9 paid $26,922.20 a pretty nice payout with a $5.60 winner on top. But not for me and my $288 stab. I keyed the 3 to hit the board, surrounding him with the 1-4-5-7 in the top four positions, adding the 6-8-9 for fifth, as follows:


So a 4-3-7-11-9-5-1 finish was a little frustrating. The 4-3-7 part was just fine, and so was the 9 running fifth but I had no 11's in any position on any ticket.

Today's pool was $1,585,220 (before takeout) on top of the $866k carryover, which works out to about 80 winners.