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Book Review

The Triple Crown Handicapper 2007 by Jim Mazur
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 110 pages paperback

For over two decades, Jim Mazur's Progressive Handicapping has earned a reputation as the source for winning angles for the Breeders' Cup and the Triple Crown events. These are often won by longshots, with boxcar exotic payouts aided by the largest betting pools of the season and large competitive fields. Every bettor's ultimate goal is to find the right longshot to bet on to make for a profitable day at the races. Triple Crown Handicapper is the tool to help you find that longshot in the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

The basis of Mazur's technique is the "knock", specifically, statistically derived negative angles. Horses which have such knocks earn demerit points and horses with the fewest knocks are the likely contenders to win the race. These knocks draw from many factors, including races at two, races at three, stakes wins, workouts and layoffs prior to the race, pedigree, jockey, and trainer, high Beyers, etc. For example, the vast majority of Derby winners rally from off the pace, but lately the stalking style has worked in 3 of the last 4 Derbies, including Barbaro. New for this year, Mazur split up the Rally category into Mid-Pack Stalkers and Deep Rally. 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, but would definitely be useful to horseplayers at all levels of betting.

Mazur devotes the entire first chapter on the previous year's edition and how it fared. He explains, "We'll tell you what WE played. Now, this is NOT a forum for us to gloat about our successes. As you will see, we slip and fall numerous times en route to the windows!" This is in distinct contrast to many other handicapping books on the market which conveniently includes examples where the techniques worked, but conveniently omit when it didn't, in typical "redboarding" fashion. Mazur not only gives you a realistic expectation of success, but also shows that he puts his money where his mouth is by including pictures of some of the betting tickets he purchased, win or lose.

Each of the events is given its own chapter, since each race is played differently. What works at Churchill Downs and Pimlico may not at Belmont Park, which further demonstrates how difficult a feat a Triple Crown sweep is. An off-track will quickly change the race shape and shift the advantage to different horses. 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 21 winners, trainer, jockey, post position, win payout, and running time. Immediately after the chart is a short paragraph summarizing how the favorites fared, demonstrating in a hurry that there is often a false favorite so overlays are readily found elsewhere. New for the Derby only this year, he includes a separate analysis for the second-place finishers, a new weapon for use when planning intrarace exotics like the exacta.

Mazur created the "Mazur Index" for each race, a less labor-intensive, "quick-and-dirty" handicapping method to sort out contenders and pretenders based on Beyers and wins. Also included in each chapter are the Daily Racing Form past performances of the last 15 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.

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, with the final update taking into account the post position draw and any late workouts. He also publishes a Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper book covering the many stakes races on the undercards.

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. and DRF.com. There are also some package deals available which include Triple Crown Handicapper with the various Zones.

Rating:     5/5

You may also want to check out Triple Crown Undercard Handicapper 2007

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