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Book Review

Crushing the Cup 2007 The Handicapper's Guide to Breeders' Cup XXIV
by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett
from Progressive Handicapping Inc., 144 pages paperback

This year, Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett's legendary Crushing The Cup celebrates its sixteenth 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 an entertaining narrative of last year's Championship day 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. For example, Mallett admits that he completely tossed Thor's Echo in the Sprint, dismissing him on post position and his 0-for-5 record so far that year. 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 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.

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, and this is of even greater importance this year with the Championships going to Monmouth Park for the first time. 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 Oceanport for the first time and wanting to bet on the races earlier in the week or on the Sunday after.

For the rest of the book, each of the eight World Thoroughbred Championship races to be run on Saturday is featured in its own chapter (the three new races on Friday are touched on in the Monmouth Park 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 front-runners (or late-ralliers) 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 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 2007 is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Breeders' Cup card on October 27 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 2007 has a cover price of $29.95 and is available from Progressive Handicapping Inc. There are package deals available which include combinations of some or all of their Breeders' Cup products (Crushing the Cup, Crushing Zone, webcast seminar, and selections). They are also hosting live seminars where they will handicap the races in person, at Bahr's Landing Restaurant north of Monmouth for dinner on Friday evening, October 26, and at the Meadowlands Racetrack the next morning. Tickets for these events can also be ordered on their website.

Rating:     5/5

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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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