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Book Review

Triple Crown Handicapper 2012 by Jim Mazur
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 102 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. He uses 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.

The opening chapter "Getting Off the Schneid" recaps the previous year's Triple Crown. He explains, "We'll tell you what WE played. This is NOT a forum for us to gloat about our successes. As you will see, like everyone else, we slip and fall numerous times en route to the windows!" Mazur not only gives you a realistic expectation of success, but also shows that he puts his money where his mouth is by detailing how each race was handicapped and what horses were selected, how those horses were used in the various bets placed, and finally which ones cashed and which ones didn't. This contrasts with many other handicapping books which conveniently include examples where the techniques worked, but conveniently omit when it didn't, in typical "redboarding" fashion. This chapter does include bets on the undercards of the Triple Crown races, handicapping angles for these races are covered in a separate book (see below).

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 1 1/4 miles might not work in New York over 1 1/2. 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 26 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 92.

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 20 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 sudden demise of the 100+ Beyer requirement to win the Derby. The last 3 winners (and 5 of the last 20 winners) had not run a 100+.

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 some package deals available which include Triple Crown Handicapper with the Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper and the Zones for the three races.

Rating:     5/5

You may also want to check out Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper 2007, the 2012 version should be much the same.

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