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Book Review

Crushing the Cup 2016 25th Anniversary Edition
by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 134 pages paperback

This year, Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett's legendary Crushing The Cup celebrates its 25th year in print. In this, the flagship product of Progressive Handicapping Inc., this entertaining team compiles all sorts of statistics from past Breeders' Cups in order to come up with a winning profile for the World Championship races, which will be celebrating their 33rd renewal on November 4 and 5. 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 conveniently not mention their failures. More importantly, Mazur and Mallett take very different approaches to handicapping, but share a common objective of "crushing" a few races rather than grinding out a profit on winning low payoffs on more races. Mazur is the pragmatic number-cruncher in Miami, Florida taking the "Moneyball" approach (spend little to win a lot), while north of the border, Mallett of British Columbia, Canada uses hunches and observations, attacking the game with his "left brain". The first chapter is a detailed narrative of last year's Championship weekend, held at Keeneland for the first time, listing what their selections had been and how they came up with them, what bets were placed, and how much money was won or lost. For example, Turf Sprint winner Mongolian Saturday, Filly and Mare Sprint winner Wavell Avenue, and Juvenile Turf winner Hit It a Bomb were dismissed as "pretenders", but did find their way onto live tickets as "B or C Team" choices. 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. No handicapping or betting strategy is perfect and the "Crushers" are honest and brave enough to not claim that theirs is. However, losing bets are to be expected, as the goal isn't to pick every winner, but cash a few big tickets (preferably in multi-horse bets) to turn an overall profit.

The host track used to change frequently, presenting problems when trying to come up with a winning bet, but by returning to Santa Anita, which last hosted three consecutive years 2012-2014, we have very recent information to work with. An entire chapter discusses what the historic Arcadia, California facility looks like and the track's biases at each of the Cup race distances, data useful not only to those betting on the Cup races themselves, but also to players wanting to increase their Santa Anita play. The editors disregard the 2008 and 2009 main track races for certain statistics due to the fact they were run on a synthetic surface, however Mallett notes that the dirt track used to be frequently tweaked until the El Segundo sand mix, installed in 2014, has remained untouched, "finally some consistency". This year it's the turf course's turn, with a new all-Bermuda lawn planted this summer to replace the original rye-Bermuda mix.

Each of the 13 World Championship races is featured in its own chapter, beginning with a chart listing past winners (Santa Anita only for the original 7 races), the winning trainer and jockey, the running style used, age, post position, win and exacta payoffs, and winning Beyer. 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 favor a specific runstyle (wire, stalk, or rally), 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 winners, again giving the reader a chance to look for trends that may reappear this year. Also included (on Page 19) is a username and password used to access the book's appendix in PDF format, which includes additional data left off the print edition for space considerations.

To accompany Crushing the Cup, Progressive Handicapping releases The Crushing Zone one week before Championship Friday. 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. The Zone is updated daily through Saturday morning based on any changes such as post positions, late scratches, good or bad morning workouts, jockey changes, and weather. Mallett will be at Santa Anita starting Monday to report on the morning workouts and track maintenance "tricks" for the benefit of the Crushing Zone, while Mazur camps out at Mohegan Sun Racebook for Progressive Handicapping's Breeders' Cup Bash. Note that the website's ordering system has been revamped for 2016 and you have to register to order anything.

Crushing The Cup 2016 is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Breeders' Cup races on November 4 and 5, 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 23 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 major circuits in North America.

Crushing The Cup 2016 has a cover price of $29.95 and is available from Progressive Handicapping Inc. in your choice of hardcopy or PDF download. There are package deals available which include combinations of some or all of their Breeders' Cup products.

Rating:     5/5

Review: Using Impact Values To Select Breeders' Cup Winners - By Stanley Caris. An alternative system of Breeders' Cup bet selection, using impact values for various angles compiled from past results.

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