George E. Smith
George E. Smith
George Elsworth Smith was an American gambler and Thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast who became a multi-millionaire during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Smith was given the nickname "Pittsburgh Phil" in 1885 by Chicago gambler William "Silver Bill" Riley to differentiate him from the other Smiths that also frequented Riley's pool halls.
Biography
George E. Smith's personal information overview.
{{personal_detail.supertitle}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
Photo Albums
Popular photos of George E. Smith
Relationships
View family, career and love interests for George E. Smith
News
News abour George E. Smith from around the web
CURRENTS | DEALS; Cocktail Tables, Ceramics, Sofas and More
NYTimes - over 5 years
Floor models, prototypes and in-stock furnishings are up to 70 percent off during the annual sample sale at Desiron, through Sept. 25 (the Bedford Club Chair, originally $4,015, is $1,205; the Chrysler Cocktail Table, regularly $5,600, is $2,800); 151 Wooster Street (Houston Street); (212) 353-2600 or desiron.com. Branca, a Chicago home furnishings
Article Link:
NYTimes article
September 10-11: The Suwanee Schedule - Patch.com
Google News - over 5 years
Today In History: On this day in 1897, a 25-year-old London taxi driver named George Smith becomes the first person ever arrested for drunk driving after slamming into a building. Smith later plead guilty and was fined 25 shillings
Article Link:
Google News article
George Smith - This is the final chapter - Anniston Star
Google News - over 5 years
Some of you didn't stop with Hank and I can't use all of them, but . . . “Hank did play the Ritz and he and Curly Williams – he lived over Williams Grocery across from the Radio Building – co-wrote 'Half As Much.' I remember once Curly gave some of us
Article Link:
Google News article
George Smith: 'Chief' Morrow: ... in a shooting, a memory - Anniston Star
Google News - over 5 years
(Anniston Star photo by George Smith) Out on US 431 in Saks, not even the sound of passing traffic reaches the quiet den of a house sitting above the highway on Taylor Avenue. The evening news from 33/40 in Birmingham has the attention of Bill Morrow
Article Link:
Google News article
George Smith - Let me know if Hank played the Ritz . . . - Anniston Star
Google News - over 5 years
OFF MY bit on the movie, Hank Williams, The Show He Never Gave, one reader wrote the belief that Williams once appeared at the old Ritz Theater on Noble. I don't know how to check that, but my memory (as a devout Hank fan) doesn't think so
Article Link:
Google News article
Today in History: Aug. 28, 2011 - Record-Searchlight
Google News - over 5 years
In 1911: George Smith, an old miner who had lived on his claim a mile from Iron Mountain for more than 10 years, was found dead in the wreckage of an abandoned shack he was probably cutting up for wood. Judging from the condition of the body,
Article Link:
Google News article
St. Thomas opens up on national TV - MiamiHerald.com
Google News - over 5 years
This will be Rocco's first head coach football season at St. Thomas as he is replacing George Smith. By Mario Sarmento Much has changed, but much remains the same at St. Thomas Aquinas, where the Raiders will have a new coach and a new quarterback but
Article Link:
Google News article
George Smith: PGA course has ties to Indian Oaks - Anniston Star
Google News - over 5 years
IF YOU'RE a golfer or a fan of the game, you probably watched the PGA Championship from the Atlanta Athletic Club last week. Which brings me to Mr. Ken Mangum, director of golf at the AAC. In getting his course ready for the last major of the year,
Article Link:
Google News article
Problems continue with Hinds ballot count - WLBT-TV
Google News - over 5 years
Supervisor George Smith was there, hoping to learn if he really lost his re-election bid to Kenneth Stokes. Last Tuesday, Tyrone Lewis came out ahead of incumbent sheriff Malcolm McMillin. The gap was wide enough to avoid a runoff
Article Link:
Google News article
Counts, confusion fail to yield winners - Jackson Clarion Ledger
Google News - over 5 years
At issue in Hinds County is whether longtime incumbents, Sheriff Malcolm McMillin and District 5 Supervisor George Smith, were ousted in rematches with their challengers, retired Jackson police officer Tyrone Lewis and Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes,
Article Link:
Google News article
Stokes holds edge over Smith for Hinds Co. supe seat - Jackson Clarion Ledger
Google News - over 5 years
Veteran Hinds County District 5 Supervisor George Smith appeared to lose his seat to challenger Kenneth Stokes Tuesday in a tight Democratic primary. District 3 Supervisor Peggy Hobson Calhoun handily won her Democratic primary, but District 2
Article Link:
Google News article
Q & A: George Smith - Elk Grove Citizen
Google News - over 5 years
Florin High School athletic director George Smith was planning a comeback to coaching this season. He just didn't know it was as the varsity football team's head coach. Smith, who originally had agreed to coach wide
Article Link:
Google News article
S&S Cycle Hires New Prez - Stephen Iggens - MotorcycleUSA.com
Google News - over 5 years
George Smith will continue as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors at S&S Cycle and lend his industry expertise and experience to Steve to effect a smooth and seamless transition. Iggens is no stranger to S&S Cycle and the motorcycle industry
Article Link:
Google News article
George Smith - Spiritual 'recycling' right neat - Anniston Star
Google News - over 5 years
A translation is when you are passing the Weaver Church of God (Alexandria Road), take a look at the steeple. Before it wound up atop that church, it was atop Leatherwood Baptist. Also, when organist Brenda Payne cranks up, she's on the keyboard of an
Article Link:
Google News article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of George E. Smith
    FORTIES
  • 1905
    Age 42
    George E. Smith died at the sanitarium on February 1, 1905.
    More Details Hide Details His death was attributed to "shattering of his nerves", instead of tuberculosis, due to his habit of never showing emotion. Smith was interred in Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh, a short distance from his childhood home in Allegheny. His funeral occurred on February 5 during a snowstorm and was attended by many people. He was entombed in a stone mausoleum that reportedly cost $30,000 to build and was built to Smith's specifications seven years before his death. His mother later commissioned a statue in his likeness and placed it on top of the mausoleum. The statue depicts Smith, hatless and wearing a suit, looking toward Pittsburgh while clutching a racing form. Smith's net worth, including real estate and stocks and bonds, was $3,250,000, and as he had no will his estate was divided equally among his mother, brother, nephew (James McGill) and niece (Eleanor Ewing). William Smith and James McGill later moved to Indianapolis in 1913 after purchasing the Indianapolis Baseball Club for $150,000. George Smith, the 1916 Kentucky Derby winner, was named after Pittsburgh Phil because he had once owned the colt's dam, Consuelo II. His racing Maxims, gleaned from his only interview with Edward Cole a few years before his death, are still considered valid by modern handicappers.
  • 1904
    Age 41
    In October 1904, Smith traveled to the Winyah Sanitarium in Asheville, North Carolina for treatment of his worsening cough, a result of advanced tuberculosis.
    More Details Hide Details
    He made his last bet, 4:1 on High Chancellor, at the Sheepshead Bay racetrack during the summer of 1904 and won $2,000.
    More Details Hide Details
    His family assumed that his "nerves" were affected from the stress of his and Shaw's suspension from racing, but Smith had also developed a persistent cough by the early months of 1904.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1903
    Age 40
    By the fall of 1903, Smith began curtailing his turf activities for frequent trips to the Adirondacks and Hot Springs to rest.
    More Details Hide Details
    Smith continued to make bets, notably securing $60,000 when Africander won the 1903 Suburban Handicap, but had sold his stable to E.E Smatters by the end of the year.
    More Details Hide Details Smith lived in moderation compared to other horsemen of the era, with the only outward display of ostentation being a diamond ring that he would wear to track engagements. Smith also did not smoke and only drank an occasional glass of wine. He socialized with very few women and was considered to be a confirmed bachelor by his family. He was adamant about not bringing women to racetracks, even his own mother, including a reference to their distracting influence on men in his Maxims. However, Smith did court Daisy Dixon, an aspiring actress and chorus girl from Chicago, in 1896. The courtship turned sour after he caught her cavorting with his jockey and notorious ladies man Tod Sloan. Dixon later married fellow gambler, Riley Grannan, who eventually died broke in Rawhide, Nevada in 1908. According to McGill, Smith never had an interest in another woman after Dixon's betrayal.
    On June 24, 1903, Smith was also banned from entering his horses in races overseen by The Jockey Club.
    More Details Hide Details He admitted to no wrongdoing, and he suspected the ban was a hold-over from Willie Shaw's suspension and resulted from The Jockey Club's increased efforts to remove plungers from their tracks.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1902
    Age 39
    Smith kept few horses in 1902 and consequently allowed James R. Keene to employ Willie Shaw for much of the season.
    More Details Hide Details While his overall percentage of wins was still high, Shaw lost some races in a way that the general public thought was suspicious and he was accused of not trying to win. Shaw's poor performance was soon linked to some action on Smith's part and he was accused of paying the jockey to lose, a claim which Smith vehemently denied. In May 1903, Shaw was suspended by The Jockey Club for presumed "listless" riding on Illyria at a May 6 race at the Jamaica Racetrack.
  • 1899
    Age 36
    Willie Shaw was ultimately hired to replace Sloan and raced for Smith from 1899 until 1903.
    More Details Hide Details
    After Sloan's departure, Smith used Skeets Martin as his principal jockey, but in 1899 Martin also left the US for better racing prospects in England.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1897
    Age 34
    When James R. Keene asked Smith in late 1897 for permission to take Sloan to England to race in the Cambridgeshire Handicap, Smith accepted the offer.
    More Details Hide Details Sloan achieved great success while racing in England, but he lost his racing license permanently in 1900. Sloan and Smith remained friends after dissolving their partnership, the later loaning Sloan $5,000 without interest after his license was revoked.
  • 1896
    Age 33
    Sloan returned to New York with Smith in 1896 where he became one of the top jockeys on the east coast, giving Smith the most profitable years of his career.
    More Details Hide Details Smith soon tired of Sloan's off-track antics, which included lavish parties and often arrogant statements that questioned Smith's judgment on the track. A case in point was Sloan's behavior prior to the running of 1897 Brooklyn Handicap which occurred over a sloppy, mud-laden track that year. Sloan had won several races on Belmar, a gray 5-year old by Belvidere, and felt confident that the horse would win the Brooklyn Handicap, openly criticizing Smith's choice of Howard Mann in front of his other employees. However, Smith knew that Belmar was not a fast runner in the mud and that Sloan would not push the horse to win because he disliked being splattered with mud. Smith instead put Skeets Martin, who was better at racing on sloppy tracks, on the 4-year old Howard Mann. He advised Martin to, "Use your own judgment with this horse, and don't bother about Belmar. Tod probably won't be anywhere near you after the first hundred yards." Howard Mann won easily, winning $50,000 for Smith, while Belmar finished in 8th place.
  • 1895
    Age 32
    Smith met Sloan in the fall of 1895 at a San Francisco racetrack after Sloan had been suspended for ten days for trying to "beat the barrier", or disregarding the starting barrier that had recently been adopted at US tracks.
    More Details Hide Details Smith was taken with Sloan's unique riding style, later termed the "monkey crouch", that redistributed the rider's weight over the neck and withers and allowed horses to run faster. However, Smith did not trust the bookmakers at the California tracks and suspected them, as well as the trainers, of rampant cheating and paying off jockeys to not win on certain horses. Consequently, Smith paid Sloan $500 for every race he won, insuring that his jockey would always be trying to win on any of Smith's mounts.
    Smith employed several jockeys on a race-to-race basis during his career as a Thoroughbred owner, including Henry "Skeets" Martin, Fred Taral, Edward R. Garrison and Sam Doggett. However, Smith considered Tod Sloan to be the best jockey in his employ and commissioned the rider to race in only his colors from 1895 to 1897.
    More Details Hide Details
  • TWENTIES
  • 1892
    Age 29
    On August 29, 1892, Parvenu was entered in a race at Sheepshead Bay and was given 30:1 initial odds by bookmakers, which would have won Smith close to $300,000.
    More Details Hide Details However all bets had to be rescinded before the start of the race because there was a miscalculation of the horse handicapping weights, causing the odds on Parvenu to drop to 10:1 in the new pool. As a result, Smith only won $50,000. But despite this mishap, Smith was rewarded when the horse won nine consecutive races, netting approximately $200,000 before Parvenu was retired at age four due to a spinal injury.
    King Cadmus was a fast runner but he had a vicious temperament, seriously injuring several of Smith's employees, in addition to weak legs and was sold as a three-year-old in 1892.
    More Details Hide Details Parvenu (sired by Uncas, out of Necromancy) was purchased by Smith in 1891 as a two-year-old and was initially considered to be a poor racing prospect by the general public due to his repeated losses early in the season. However, Smith saw potential in the colt and recognized that he could win a large amount of money if the horse could win a race against high odds.
    Cadmus' other win occurred at Morris Park Racetrack in 1892 with Smith netting another $80,000.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1891
    Age 28
    The first win occurred on September 3, 1891 at Sheepshead Bay Race Track and resulted in Smith winning approximately $115,000, which was the largest payout from a horse race recorded in the US at that time.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1890
    Age 27
    Smith purchased King Cadmus as a yearling in 1890 for $4,000 at the stable dispersal sale of the late August Belmont.
    More Details Hide Details The colt was a son of Kingfisher and was a full brother to another popular racehorse named King Crab. The horse only won two races in his entire racing career, but Smith won $195,000 from Cadmus' two victories.
  • 1885
    Age 22
    Smith decided that the best gambling prospects at the time were in Chicago and made his way to William "Silver Bill" Riley's poolroom in late 1885.
    More Details Hide Details Riley was a Civil War veteran from Brooklyn with prematurely gray hair that owned one of the first clubs in Chicago dedicated to betting on horse racing. It was Riley that saddled Smith with the nickname "Pittsburgh Phil" on their first meeting to differentiate George Smith's bets from the rest of the "room full of Smiths." Riley usually named his customers based on their appearances, but by McGill's reckoning he chose the name "Pittsburgh Phil" because Smith was from Pittsburgh and Phil was short for Philadelphia. Smith quickly gained a reputation as being one of the most successful "plungers", or men that bet large sums of money on races, in Chicago. Within a few years, he relocated to New York City and focused most of his betting operations out of New York tracks. Smith also purchased and raced Thoroughbred horses under the name Pleasant Valley Stable. His racing colors during the early 1890s were royal-purple and canary yellow. Smith's brother, Bill, became his principal horse trainer during the 1890s and early 1900s. One of his most successful horses was a two-year-old bay colt named King Cadmus.
    The first horse race that Smith witnessed live was the 1885 Kentucky Derby in which Joe Cotton was the favorite and won at 4:5 odds, but he did not bet on the outcome.
    More Details Hide Details
    By 1885, Smith had become one of the most touted gamblers in Pittsburgh and had won over $100,000 without ever seeing a horse race run firsthand.
    More Details Hide Details However, Smith was becoming too famous in Pittsburgh. He could not maintain the favorable, high odds when placing bets that he had attained earlier in his career when he was a virtual unknown because everyone in the crowd would lower the odds by betting his choices.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1879
    Age 16
    In the fall of 1879, Smith placed his first bet on a 5:1 odds horse named Gabriel running in a race at the Brighton Beach racetrack at Coney Island.
    More Details Hide Details He won $38 when the horse won by 2 lengths but did not show any outward signs of emotion while the race was run. Determined that he could win at horse racing, Smith quit his job at the cork factory and accrued more than $5,000 from betting on horse races in the next two years, hiding the proceeds under his mattress at home. Upon his mother eventually discovering the money, he reasoned with her that he was not really gambling because he was making logical predictions based on the past performances of horses and not merely guessing.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1872
    Age 9
    The Smith family initially lived on a small farm in Sewickley, Pennsylvania but moved in 1872 to Allegheny City when George Smith was 10 years old.
    More Details Hide Details The Smiths eventually settled in the neighborhood of Pleasant Valley, which was located across the Ohio River from Pittsburgh in the present day city neighborhood of California-Kirkbride. George Smith's father died within a year (in late 1872 or 1873), which created financial hardships for his mother and sisters and resulted in George going to work at the age of 12 at the local cork cutting factory (possibly Armstrong Cork Co.) for $5 per week. Smith was not happy with this occupation, once remarking on the banality of the profession later in life: "I thought I could do a little better than cutting corks, inasmuch as I knew how to divide six by two." Smith set aside money from his weekly pay (after giving the majority to his mother) to purchase and train gamecocks, hiding the fowl from his devout Roman Catholic mother and sisters who greatly disapproved of gambling. He also bet on the outcomes of National League baseball games in Pittsburgh pool halls and would attribute his often sizable winnings to pay raises at the cork factory.
  • 1862
    Born
    George Elsworth Smith was born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania in 1862 to Elizabeth ("Eliza") and Christian Smith.
    More Details Hide Details The Smith family also included two sisters, Annie and Elizabeth, and another son, William C. Smith, that was a few years younger than George Smith. His mother was originally from Ireland and emigrated to the United States in 1857, and his father was a carpenter from Baden, Germany. Eliza remarried after Christian Smith's death in the early 1870s to retail grocer Edward Downing, who died in the 1880s. She remarried a second time on November 20, 1906 to real estate and coal developer Thomas S. Wood after George Smith's death. George Smith's sister Anne married and had a son named James Christian McGill (1880–1972). McGill was orphaned at a young age when his parents died in the mid-1880s during an unspecified epidemic and was subsequently raised, along with his infant sister Eleanor, by Mrs. Smith and George Smith. Smith was a notoriously reticent and shy individual that only granted one interview during his lifetime, in which he relayed only information pertaining to racing matters. Consequently, much of the published biographical information on Pittsburgh Phil's early life, his rise to fame and the reasoning behind his methods on the track comes from interviews with his nephew, James McGill, who was a close confidant in the ten years preceding George Smith's death.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a consumer reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)