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Book Review

Crushing the Cup 2009 The Handicapper's Guide to Breeders' Cup XXVI
by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 130 pages paperback

This year, Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett's legendary Crushing The Cup celebrates its 18th year in print. 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 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 the big day, 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 detailed narrative of last year's Championship day, listing 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. For example, Turf winner Conduit was dismissed by Mazur as a "pretender", killing a potentially lucrative Pick 4 score. These men must be applauded for this full disclosure, which lends much more credibility to their publication than a series of red-boarded winning bets like you might see elsewhere. No handicapping or betting strategy is perfect and the "Crushers" are honest and brave enough to not claim that theirs is, although in 2008 they did have a very profitable Cup weekend.

Since the Breeders' Cup moves to a different site each year, this presents problems for horseplayers when trying to come up with a winning bet, but since Santa Anita is the first track to host the event two years in a row, we have very recent information to work with. Mazur and Mallett spend an entire chapter on this issue, discussing what the facility looks like, and the track's biases at each of the Cup race distances. This chapter is useful not only to those betting on the Cup races themselves, but also to fans visiting the Arcadia oval for the first time, or simulcast players wanting to increase their Santa Anita play.

For the rest of the book, each of the 14 World Thoroughbred Championship races is featured in its own chapter. Each chapter begins with a chart listing the past winners of the race, the winning trainer and jockey, the running style used, age, post position, win payoff, and exacta payoff. In a quick glance you can already see some trends unfolding, and in the pages that follow, those trends and others are examined in great detail. Some races feature more winning favorites, some see more than a fair share of front-runners (or late-ralliers) winning, and some see most of its winners coming from a certain prep race. 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. Also included is a URL and password to access the book's appendix in PDF format, which includes additional charts left off the print version for space considerations.

To accompany Crushing the Cup, Progressive Handicapping releases The Crushing Zone one week before Championship day. This newsletter-sized publication of about 30 pages length sorts the pre-entrants for each race into the three categories of Contenders, Gray Zone, and Pretenders, based on the factors detailed in Crushing the Cup. You purchase a password from Progressive Handicapping which allows you to download the Zone, which 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 2009 is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Breeders' Cup races on November 6 and 7, 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 18 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 2009 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.

Rating:     5/5

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.

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