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Book Review

Triple Crown Handicapper 2014 by Jim Mazur
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 114 pages paperback

For over two decades, Jim Mazur's Progressive Handicapping has earned a reputation as the source for winning angles for the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup. With large fields and recreational bettors inflating the pools, big payoffs happen often. The horseplayer's ultimate goal is to find the right longshot to bet on to make for a profitable day at the races. Triple Crown Handicapper may be the extra edge you need to find that longshot this Triple Crown season.

Mazur employs a contrarian handicapping strategy, using statistically derived negative angles to determine "knocks", then horses with the fewest knocks are the likely contenders to win. These knocks draw from many factors, including number of starts, Beyer speed figures, days since last raced, pedigrees, and running style. For example, most Derby winners rally from off the pace due to the often suicidal early fractions. The book is a real eye-opener for a casual bettor/fan since it gives such a participant so many different angles to work with to find that elusive "crush" on the big day.

Those who have purchased this book in the past may find this year's redesign refreshing. In the opening chapter "Stroll Down Memory Lane”, Mazur discusses some selected Triple Crown races from the past 20 years and their significance in the development of his system. He demonstrates the power of his contrarian stance, trying to dig deeper to avoid the obvious factors that most bettors will use, and hopefully come up with a longshot, not necessarily to win but even to hit the board to boost the exotic payouts. He points out that he nailed the exacta in the 1995 Derby, the year of the very first Triple Crown Handicapper, finally ending his losing streak of 20 straight Derbies!

Each of the events is given its own chapter, since each race is played differently, demonstrating a major reason why it is so difficult to sweep the Triple Crown; what works in Louisville at 10 furlongs might not work in New York over 12. Mazur includes numerous charts describing the basis for the various knocks he employs in his handicapping method. The first chart in each chapter lists the last 28 winners, trainer, jockey, post position, win payout, and running time. Immediately after the chart is a short paragraph summarizing how the favorites fared. Given the "recreational" money pumped into the pools, false favorites are inevitable. Mazur also includes a special section covering the Derby second-place finishers, an invaluable weapon for use in the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta pools. Previous editions of the book had extensive charts and tables covering stats for running style, jockey/trainer records, workout details, etc. but these are now given in an online appendix with the URL and password given on page 104.

Mazur created the "Mazur Index" for each race, a quick-and-dirty method to weed out "wise guy" horses and highlight overlaid contenders. Also included in each chapter are the Daily Racing Form past performances of the last 22 winners and the last 12 Derby runners-up, so you can see where the knocks can be found and know what to look for this year. One change seen on those pages is the demise of the 100+ Beyer requirement to win the Derby. The last 5 winners (and 6 of the last 10) had not run a 100+.

After covering each race, he then gives a narrative of what happened during last year's edition, outlining selections given (and how he came up with them), bets made, and overall profit/loss on the card. This narrative also includes bets on the undercard, statistics of which are covered in the Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper.

To accompany the Triple Crown Handicapper, Mazur releases The Derby Zone one week before Derby day, likewise the Preakness Zone and Belmont Zone over the same timeframe. These publications, also available online and updated daily on the website, sorts each race's pre-entrants into the three categories of Contenders, Gray Zone, and Pretenders, based on the factors detailed in Triple Crown Handicapper, and calculates the Mazur Indices, with the final update taking into account the post position draw and any late workouts. He also publishes Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper which covers the many stakes races on the undercards, great for use when constructing Pick 3, 4, and 6 tickets or to build bankroll for the main events.

Triple Crown Handicapper is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Triple Crown races, or for newer horseplayers wanting to learn more about the use of angles and biases when selecting their horses. Triple Crown Handicapper has a cover price of $29.95 and is available from Progressive Handicapping Inc.. There are also package deals available which include various combinations of Triple Crown Handicapper, Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper, the Zones for the three races, Daily Sheets, and Selections.

Rating:     5/5

You may also want to check out Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper 2007, the 2014 version should be much the same.

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