Q: How are you different from other public handicappers?
A: I consider myself very different. I rank my objectives in this order when handicapping a card:
1. Identify difficult to find handicapping info
2. Find the live prices in a given race
3. Pick the winner on top
4. Never be predictable
There are two main types of handicappers. Those that lean heavily to low priced runners and those who shoot for the moon in every race. Neither is reliable. I consider every horse and attempt to find value in the race. However, I am not afraid to land on the favorite if I can't create a strong enough case for a price.
Q: If you're good, why give your opinions to others?
A: Some people might like to paint as a hobby, I like to create analysis sheets. I am attracted to the data analytics. In addition, my betting isn't great, which is why I don't consult a lot on the wagering side. It's not uncommon for others to profit from my opinions and I don't. In addition, the writing of my thoughts crystallizes my handicapping and makes me sharper. But overall I just enjoy the handicapping process and like sharing it with others that may not have the desire to do the digging.
Q: Do you handicap for newbies or season players?
A: A definite lean towards season players but I create the sheet in a way that anyone can augment their own process. I feel most satisfied when I can identify hidden angles to augment sophisticated players. It's not that I don't value newer players, I just tailor my style towards those that are hardcore players.
Q: What recommendation for someone trying to improve?
A: Read and listen! There are tons of great books and now with social media all kinds of podcasts and other information out there. There are some excellent players willing to share their thoughts and ideas. Listen to what makes them good and try it out for yourself. Not every strategy works for every person. Be willing to try things and toss them aside if they don't work. I also am a big believer in writing down your thoughts (not surprisingly) because that kind of rote exercise will illuminate what works for you and what doesn't.
Q: Are you involved with other sports beyond horse racing?
A: Yes, somewhat. I created a major league baseball data sheet on starting pitchers. It basically combines a bunch of advanced metrics, weighting them differently, along with other components like air density, wind, umpire tendencies and ballpark configuration. The goal is to determine how each starting pitcher is likely to perform. It's been successful but very time consuming to create. Thus I can be only intermittently involved in that.
Q: What's with the name "Track Phantom"?
A: It is a combination of a few things. I wanted some anonymity to maintain separation from my "day" job and my "hobby". I was influenced a bit by Dark Star, the late Minnesota personality who was the host on the Canterbury Report in the 1980's, among many other things. The phantom part of the name was intentional. Living in Austin Texas meant I wouldn't meet many of the players who would use my information. To them, I was relatively unknown. The track portion was somewhat obvious.