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Book Review

Using Impact Values To Select Breeders' Cup Winners
by Stanley Caris
American Turf Monthly Publications, 2004, 61 pages softcover

The Kentucky Derby may be the world's most over-analyzed race, but clearly the undisputed leader in worldwide one-day betting handle is the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. With the best horses in the world gathered for one day vying for millions of dollars in purse money and a chance at year-end honors, the competition is always tight and longshot scores are always possible. A perfect example of this is Arcangues winning the 1993 Breeders' Cup Classic at odds of 133-1.

American Turf Monthly writer Stanley Caris has for years used impact value analysis to determine who the contenders are in a given race, and in his latest book Using Impact Values To Select Breeders' Cup Winners, he quickly and effectively demonstrates how powerful a technique this can be. Readers of his Triple Crown book Impact Values Lead to Derby, Preakness and Belmont Winners and Longshots will find this work to be very familiar territory indeed. Put simply, instead of just suggesting to "play" or "avoid" horses satisfying a given angle, Caris took the next crucial step and quantified the validity of that angle. Caris calculated the Impact Value of each angle, a figure which dictates how much more often an angle will score as compared to how often it would based on chance alone. For example, an angle with an impact value of 1.50 wins 50% more than chance alone would dictate. The most extreme case is an impact value of zero, meaning that angle never wins.

Professional and recreational horseplayers at all levels of experience and bankroll will be fascinated by the thorough detail of Caris' work.. His angles come from all sources, such as pedigree, both dosage profile and sire lines, earnings per start, Beyer speed figures and Timeform ratings, final quarter-mile times, and jockeys. As he explains, what works for the Turf doesn't work for the Sprint. Caris gives each race its own chapter, where each handicapping angle is given a short paragraph description and a chart showing which Breeders' Cup winners satisfied that angle. Then after collecting several angles, he compiles a "checklist" of angles which the handicapper uses to calculate points for each horse in the field based on the impact value of that angle. Impact values of 1.50 might score a single point on the checklist, while a powerful 3.50 angle might score 2 or 3 points. Some Breeders' Cup races are known to be formful with favorites winning often, so you may need to look to the exotics to take advantage of longer-odds horses who score well on the checklist. But obviously if the horse with the most points is going off at long odds, it may be time to bet with both fists.

Unlike some of the obscure angles used in his Triple Crown analysis, all of the angles he uses for the Breeders' Cup can be easily found in the Daily Racing Form and an online pedigree search, with simple calculations necessary in some cases. He demonstrates that a little bit of effort can pay off huge at the windows. This is clearly a publication for racing fans who will be wagering on the Breeders' Cup, but casual fans who want to learn a few lessons on pedigree and handicapping can benefit from it as well.

Using Impact Values To Select Breeders' Cup Winners can be purchased directly from the publisher, American Turf Monthly, for $39.95. Included with each order are a completed Breeders' Cup checklist and Stanley Caris' longshot selections and value plays for all eight Cup races, conveniently emailed or faxed to you on Thursday October 28. This is a great value that could well pay for itself on October 30th at Lone Star Park.

Rating:     4.5/5

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