Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett's legendary Crushing The Cup celebrates its twentieth renewal in 2011. In this, the flagship product of Progressive Handicapping Inc., the dynamic duo compiles all sorts of statistics from past Breeders' Cups in order to come up with a winning profile for each of the fifteen Breeders' Cup World Championships races. No stone is left unturned as they examine track biases of the host track, prep races and running styles used by past winners, number of days since last start, and much more. This is a "must read" for horseplayers at all levels of betting since it offers so many different angles to work with to find that elusive "crush" on the big day.
Unlike some handicapping publications on the market, the authors don't simply brag about their successes and not admit their failures. The entire first chapter is a narrative of last year's event at Churchill Downs, listing in detail what their picks had been and how they came up with them, what bets were placed based on those picks, and how much money was won or lost. Mallett explains how he met us on Wednesday morning on the backstretch to inspect the turf course, which was reported to be too hard for the Europeans when in fact, only the outside was truly hard but had more give to it close to the hedge. They admit to eliminating eventual winner Shared Account in the Filly and Mare Turf, dismissing her as a "pretender", but overall they turned a profit over the weekend. Their "full disclosure" lends much more credibility to their publication than a series of what appears to be red-boarded "winning" bets like you might see elsewhere. No betting strategy is perfect and the "Crushers" are honest and brave enough not to claim that theirs is, but clearly Churchill is their favorite track from a profitability standpoint.
The Breeders' Cup moves around, which presents problems when trying to come up with a winning bet. Thankfully, with the Championships returning to the Twin Spires for a record 8th time and 2nd year in a row, there is plenty of past history to use. Mazur and Mallett spend an entire chapter on "That Quirky CD Oval", discussing what the facility looks like and the track's biases at each of the Cup's race distances. This chapter is useful not only to those betting on the Cup races themselves, but also to fans visiting "the coffin" for the first time looking for an added edge when betting on the races the rest of the meet. Mallett definitely has a love-hate relationship with "Butch the Blade", who often wreaks havoc on Breeders' Cup day.
For the rest of the book, each of the 15 races is featured in its own chapter. Each begins with a chart listing the past winners of the race (for the original 7, only Churchill Downs runnings are listed for space considerations), the winning trainer and jockey, the running style used, age (where applicable), post position, win payoff, and exacta payoff. In a quick glance you can already see some trends unfolding. Some races feature more winning favorites, some are biased to a certain running style, some see most of its winners coming from a certain prep race. For exotics players, charts show which running styles are likely to finish second, third, or fourth. Each chapter concludes with the Daily Racing Form past performances of the last few Cup winners (CD runnings only for the original 7), again giving the reader a chance to look for trends. Data that have been omitted for space considerations are available in a free appendix on their website, using the access code on Page 61.
To accompany Crushing the Cup, Mazur and Mallett release The Crushing Zone about 2 weeks before Championship day. This newsletter-sized publication sorts the pre-entrants for each race into the categories of Contenders, Gray Zone, and Pretenders. Internet users can access this document from their website through a password supplied when you purchase the Zone, or you can have the hardcopy shipped Priority Mail. The Zone is updated daily through Friday based on last minute changes such as late scratches, good or bad morning workouts, or weather.
Crushing The Cup 2011 is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Breeders' Cup races on November 4-5 or for newer horseplayers wanting to learn more about the use of angles and biases as handicapping weapons. Mazur and Mallett have done their homework through 19 years of experience, and the fruit of their labor is yours for just $29.95. From their Breeders' Cup experience they have expanded their operations and also publish similar statistical analyses for the Triple Crown and for the various major circuits in North America.
Crushing The Cup 2011 has a cover price of $29.95 and is available from Progressive Handicapping Inc. There are several package deals available which include combinations of some or all of their Breeders' Cup products, and the book can be purchased in traditional hardcopy or as a PDF file.
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