Crushing the Cup
, the flagship of Jim Mazur's Progressive Handicapping Inc.
, celebrates its 20th edition this year. Mazur from Florida, teams up with Peter Mallett from Canada to come up with strategies to beat the 15 World Championship
races. This is a must read for horseplayers at all levels of betting since it offers so many different angles to work with to find that elusive "crush" on the big day. This is an excellent publication for anybody wanting to bet the tough Breeders' Cup
races through the use of angles and biases as handicapping weapons. The duo has done their homework through 20 years of experience.
Santa Anita, a home team advantage
The Breeders' Cup
moves around, which presents problems when trying to come up with a winning bet. 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 to use. Mazur and Mallett spend an entire chapter on "SA: Back to Good Old Dirt", discussing what the facility looks like and the track's biases at each of the Cup's race distances. Even disregarding the two years run over Pro-Ride, locally based horses are the most successful on the Santa Anita main track, so they must be given extra consideration when handicapping. By comparison, turf races appear to be dominated by the Europeans, despite the common belief that their horses cannot compete in the heat.
For the rest of the book, each of the 15 races is featured in its own chapter. Each begins with a chart listing the past winners of the race (for the original 7, only Santa Anita runnings are listed for space considerations), 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 are biased to a certain running style, some see most of its winners coming from a certain prep race. For exotics players, charts show which running styles are likely to finish second, third, or fourth. Each chapter concludes with the Daily Racing Form past performances of selected past 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. Data that have been omitted for space considerations are available in a free appendix on their website, using the access code on Page 67.
They show their successes and failures honestly
Unlike some handicapping publications on the market, the authors don't simply brag about their successes and not admit their failures. The entire first chapter is a narrative of last year's event 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.
Peter 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, and highlights why Churchill Downs and not Santa Anita is their favorite host.
"The Crushing Zone" and other associated products
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 categories of Contenders, Gray Zone, and Pretenders and makes recommendations on how to structure multi-horse bets given the expected pace scenario. Internet users can access this document from their website through a password supplied when you purchase the Zone, or you can have the hardcopy shipped Priority Mail. The Zone is updated daily through Friday based on last minute changes such as late scratches, good or bad morning workouts, or weather
Crushing The Cup 2012 has a cover price of $29.95 and is available from Progressive Handicapping Inc. There are several package deals available which include combinations of some or all of their Breeders' Cup products ("The Kitchen Sink"), and the book can be purchased in traditional hardcopy or as a PDF file.
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.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy