For seventeen years, professional handicappers Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett have produced Crushing The Cup, the flagship product of Progressive Handicapping Inc. In it, they compile all sorts of statistics from past Breeders' Cups in order to come up with a winning profile for each of the World Championship 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. 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 Cup days, but would definitely be useful to horseplayers at all levels of betting.
Unlike some handicapping publications on the market, Mazur and Mallett don't simply brag about their successes and not admit their failures. The entire first chapter is a narrative of last year's rain-soaked Monmouth Park, 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 through the day as a result. For example, Mazur admits that he completely tossed Midnight Lute in the Sprint, dismissing him as a "pretender" and leaving him off of all his tickets. This reviewer has to applaud these men for this "full disclosure" given that this lends much more credibility to their publication than a series of what appears to be red-boarded "winning" bets like you see elsewhere. No betting strategy is perfect and the "Crushers" are honest and brave enough not to claim that theirs is.
The Breeders' Cup moving to a different track each year presents problems when trying to come up with a winning bet. Thankfully, with the Championships returning to Oak Tree at Santa Anita for the fourth time, there is some past history from which to draw some angles. Mazur and Mallett spend an entire chapter on the host track itself, discussing what the facility looks like and the track's biases. However, the installation of the synthetic Pro-Ride surface may reduce the effectiveness of those statistics for main track races.
For the rest of the book, each of the 14 World Thoroughbred Championship races is featured in its own chapter. The "original 8" race chapters each begin with a chart listing the past winners of the race, 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 see more than a fair share of late ralliers (or speedsters) winning, some see most of its winners coming from a certain prep race. For exotics players, Mazur and Mallett also examine angles which point out horses most likely to finish second, third, or fourth. The 6 newer races each get a one-page treatment listing which angles (run styles, prep races) could be used to point at the winner. Each chapter concludes with the Daily Racing Form past performances of the last few Cup winners of the subject race, again giving the reader a chance to look for trends that may reappear this year. Additional statistics and tables, which used to be included in the printed book, are available online in a free appendix, with the access code given on Page 62.
To accompany Crushing the Cup, Mazur and Mallett release The Crushing Zone on the Sunday night before Cup day. This newsletter-sized publication sorts each race's pre-entrants into the three categories of Contenders, Gray Zone, and Pretenders, based on the factors detailed in Crushing The Cup. Internet users can access this document from their website through a password supplied when you purchase the Zone, or you can have it shipped Priority Mail, and online the Zone is updated daily through Friday based on any last minute changes such as late scratches, good or bad morning workouts, or weather.
Crushing The Cup is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Breeders' Cup races on October 24-25 or for newer horseplayers wanting to learn more about the use of angles and biases when selecting their horses, on Cup day and otherwise. Mazur and Mallett have done their homework through seventeen 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 2008 has a cover price of $29.95 and is available from Progressive Handicapping Inc. and Daily Racing Form. There are package deals available which include combinations of some or all of their Breeders' Cup products and DRF has a special for buying it along with Betting Synthetic Surfaces.
Review: Betting Synthetic Surfaces - Conquering Racing's Newest Frontier By Bill Finley. Using research and statistics, this book helps educate horseplayers on angles and strategies for synthetic races. An excellent way to prepare for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita.
For more angles on handicapping the Breeders' Cup, you may also want to check out Using Impact Values To Select Breeders' Cup Winners - by Stanley Caris
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