There’s no definitive answer to who is the best horse racing handicapper, but Pittsburgh Phil certainly would be a strong contender for the title. Phil’s real name was George Elsworth Smith, and he was born in 1862 in Sewlickly, Pennsylvania.
He began gambling at a young age and was given the nickname Pittsburgh Phil by a Chicago gambler who wanted to avoid confusing him with other gambling Smiths.
Phil played pool and other gambling games, but horses were his bread and butter. He developed many handicapping strategies that are still used to this day and won large sums of money at a time when racing statistics were not widely available. He later owned horses and
By the time of his death from tuberculosis in 1905 at the age of 43, Phil had amassed a fortune of more than $3 million, compared to roughly $90 million in today’s dollars. His racing “maxims” were published posthumously in 1908 and laid the foundation for many modern handicapping strategies.
He is buried in a mausoleum in Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh that he build long before his death. His mother added the crowning touch: A statue of Phil with a rolled up Daily Racing From in his right hand.