George E. Smith, aka “Pittsburgh Phil” (1862–1905): Master of the Horse

I was trolling some gilded age  newspapers a while ago and I came across a 1889 squib entitled “Wealthy Men Banquet“,  which is my kind of article.  Twenty three notables were listed, including Andrew Carnegie, H.C. Frick, and towards the bottom E.D. Smith.

Pretty commonish name for such exalted company, and I’d never heard of him.  Google is your friend.  So sometimes is fat thumbing

E.D. Smith turned out to be Canadian businessman and Conservative politician.  G.E. Smith, which is what I googled in error, turned out to be both the guitarist, or a gambler.

Not just any gambler.   George Elsworth Smith, aka Pittsburgh Phil, was a byword for astute horse picking.  Or jockey picking,  whichever paid off the most.  Call him the Warren Buffett of the turf.  He did his homework, bet only when it made sense, and wound up making millions.  Millions in pre-World War One dollars Continue reading