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Crushing the Cup 2012 The Handicapper's Guide to Breeders' Cup XXIX
by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 124 pages paperback

For 21 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 runnings of the Breeders' Cup 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 or 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 event, the second of 2 years 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 through the day as a result. Mallett explains how he observed horses schooling in the paddock on Thursday afternoon, noticing differences in conformation between the Breeders' Cup horses and the $19,000 claimers being saddled for their races at the same time. Unlike past years, the team appeared to cash on every race, in some cases with "saver" tickets to minimize losses, with every winner ranked as either Crushing Zone or Grey Zone in their final analysis (the exception being Court Vision in the Mile). We applaud them 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 might see elsewhere. No betting strategy is perfect and they are honest enough not to claim that theirs is, but this was clearly a good year for the Crushers.

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 Santa Anita for a sixth time, and returning to dirt after 2 years of synthetic, there is plenty of 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 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 Arcadia oval for the first time. Mazur points out that the backstretch, being in the sun, is drier, harder, and faster than the homestretch with sprint fractions in the 21 second range, leading to deceleration in the homestretch which is deeper and slower, yielding final quarters in the 24-25 second range. They also explain the downhill turf chute, unique in North America, which crosses the dirt track for the Turf, Filly and Mare Turf, and Turf Sprint.

For the rest of the book, each of the 14 World Championship races is featured in its own chapter. Each begins 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. Each chapter concludes with the Daily Racing Form past performances of selected past Cup winners (1 1/4 miles for the Filly and Mare Turf; Santa Anita dirt runnings for dirt events), 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 but have been omitted for space considerations, are available in a free appendix on their website, using the access code on Page 67.

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 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 2012 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 when selecting their horses, on Cup day and otherwise. Mazur and Mallett have done their homework through two decades 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 2012 has a cover price of $29.95 and is available directly 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.

Rating:     5/5

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