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Book Review

Crushing the Cup 2018 The Handicapper's Guide to Breeders' Cup XXXV
by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 128 pages paperback

Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett's legendary Crushing The Cup celebrates its 27th renewal in 2018. 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 14 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 Del Mar, 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. They reveal the newest member of the team, Isobell Cunningham, who reported from her home base in the UK on the European shippers. Mallett explains how for the first time in years he opted not to travel to the host track, instead working from his Niagara Falls-area base where he can comfortably watch video of the workouts on YouTube and on XBTV. On Friday, a last minute exclusion off their Pick 6 Cartel ticket on the undercard proved costly, while on Saturday, they dismissed Turf Sprint winner Stormy Liberal and Filly and Mare Sprint winner Bar of Gold as mere "Pretenders" (and their odds reflected this), leaving them off most tickets. 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.

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-tying ninth time, there is plenty of past history to use. Mazur and Mallett spend an entire chapter on "Back to the Quirky CD Oval", discussing what the facility looks like, the track's biases at each of the Cup's race distances, and which tracks winners (or losers) tend to ship from. This chapter is useful not only to those betting on the Cup races themselves, but also to fans visiting/betting "The Coffin" for the first time. Despite it being a 1 mile oval like last year's host, they write that Del Mar has a "long turn into a ridiculously short stretch" while Churchill is the opposite, short sharp turns, ridiculously long stretches (hence the Coffin reference), with a dogleg chute which comes into play for races from 6f to a mile.

For the rest of the book, each of the 14 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), the winning trainer and jockey, the running style used, age (where applicable), post position, win and exacta payoffs, and the Beyer figure. 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. These angles are explained in the text that follows, so you know exactly what to look for when handicapping the races; these angles are ultimately what are used to sort the field into Crushers, Gray Zoners, and Pretenders. 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 login data on Page 35.

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 Crushing Zone, 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 gets a major update immediately after the post positions are drawn, since the draw can easily upgrade or downgrade a horse's chances, then daily through Friday based on last minute changes such as late scratches, good or bad morning gallops, or wet weather forecasts.

Crushing The Cup 2018 is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Breeders' Cup races on November 2-3 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 26 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 2018 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 (Crushing the Cup, Crushing Zones, and daily selections), and the book can be purchased in traditional hardcopy or as a PDF file. Fans who are not traveling to Churchill but want to join Mazur, co-hosts Mike Mutnansky and Mike Vesce and the rest of the Pick 6 Cartel in person can attend the Breeders' Cup Bash at Mohegan Sun Casino.

Rating:     5/5

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