A: The first time I stepped foot on a track was May 11, 1986. I remember it because it was the day after my senior prom and the girls in our group took the guys to Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Mn. I knew absolutely nothing about handicapping at that time. We didn't win that day but wanted to learn.
Q: What interested you early on?
A: Horse racing was just one year old in Minnesota and had a monopoly on the gambling in the state (Indian casinos had not yet come on the scene). I was surrounded by people getting involved. I read Steve Davidowitz's great book, Betting Thoroughbreds, and others by Andy Beyer and Tom Pritchard.
Q: Was it difficult to learn to handicap?
A: I actually remember the first Racing Form I bought. It was a few days after I went to the track for the first time. I handicapped the first race for the next racing day and picked a closer by the name of Pinon Fluke. I remember getting the St. Paul Pioneer Press the next day and seeing that he won at 9-2 odds.
Q: Did you have big wins in the early days?
A: Not really. My dad and I would attend the races together from 1986 to 1992 and were really $2 and $5 bettors. We did have 5 out of 6 in a pick 6 on a day with $300,000 in the pool. We singled a longshot named Bold Canadian. He was beaten a head by the 4-5 favorite after encountering all kinds of trouble.
Q: What got you into public handicapping?
A: I was doing the handicapping for my dad's pick 6 syndicate group. I enjoyed digging for information and sharing it in a way that made sense and was easy to understand. I guess I just carried that over and why I started the Track Phantom website. I like helping others have a chance to win.
Q: What kind of handicapper are you?
A: I've always been a Daily Racing Form guy and use their Formulator tool religiously. I'd say my style is more art than science. I don't try to boil a race down to a number but treat each race differently. I identify predominant angles (trip, trainer patterns, class) and dig for answers to open questions.
Q: Are you any different from others?
A: I consider myself very different. I focus on identifying difficult to find handicapping angles, locating the live priced runners and, of course, finding the winner. I try not to be predictable and want those that follow me to use my opinion to augment their own handicapping ideas. Information trumps selections.
Q: Why give your opinions away?
A: I enjoy the process of researching data to find trends. It's very much a hobby. My betting structure is mediocre which is why I don't give out much consulting on the wagering side. It's not uncommon for others to profit on my information and I don't. I do a lot of work and don't mind sharing it with others.
Q: Can new players use your info?
A: My sheets lean towards seasoned players but are definitely easy for new players to follow and use. While my commentary assumes a base understanding of handicapping, new players are able to gain enough information to be dangerous. I'm really trying to augment information for seasoned players.
Q: What can players do to improve?
A: Read and listen! There are tons of great books, radio shows, podcasts and social media out there. A lot of sharp players are willing to give their thoughts and ideas to those who want them. Be willing to try new ideas. Put your thoughts in writing. It will crystallize your opinions and angles for race day.
Q: Why the name Track Phantom?
A: I initially wanted to keep some anonymity and was influenced by the late Dark Star (longtime radio and TV personality in Minnesota that hosted the Canterbury Report in the 1980's). Being from an area of the country not very close to tracks, I was going to be relatively unknown. In other words, a Phantom!