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Book Review

Crushing the Cup 2006 The Handicapper's Guide to Breeders' Cup XXIII
by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 142 pages paperback

This year, Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett's legendary Crushing The Cup celebrates its fifteenth 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 each of the eight World Thoroughbred 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 an entertaining narrative of last year's Championship day at Belmont 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, Mallett admits that he completely tossed Stevie Wonderboy in the Juvenile, dismissing him as a "pretender" and a "wise guy horse" 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 might see elsewhere. No handicapping or betting strategy is perfect and the "Crushers" are honest and brave enough to not 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 Churchill Downs for a record sixth time, 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 coffin" for the first time looking for an added edge when betting on the races the rest of the meet.

For the rest of the book, each of the eight 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 (where applicable), 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 late ralliers (or speedsters) winning, and some see most of its winners coming from a certain prep race.

The Crushers also help the bettor determine how to incorporate the European imports in their wagering strategy; with increasing foreign participation in the Breeders' Cup including in the dirt races, these angles should not be ignored. 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 statistical charts that used to be in the book but were taken out for space considerations. These include how the favorites have finished, running styles of the top 4 finishers, pace angles, winning dosage profiles, and jockey/trainer statistics.

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 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. The online version of 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 card on November 4 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 fifteen 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 has a cover price of $29.95 and is available from Progressive Handicapping Inc. There is also a package deal available which include Crushing the Cup and the Crushing Zone.

Rating:     5/5

All Book Reviews

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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