“Speedy” Smithwick passes

Speedy Smithwick and his wife Eva at their farm in 2016. ©Douglas Lees

“Speedy” Smithwick passes

Sad news to report from the steeplechase community. Daniel M Smithwick Jr., better known as “Speedy,” passed away on April 23 in Middleburg, Va. The son of trainers Dot and Mikey Smithwick, Speedy followed in his parents’ fabled footsteps. Speedy would become one of the nation’s top amateur steeplechase jockeys with wins including the 1984 Virginia Gold Cup, the 1985 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, and the Iroquois Steeplechase (three times).

On December 10, 1988, Speedy married Eva Dahlgren, who shared his passion and gift with horses. He is survived by Eva; daughters Kathy Smithwick Swain and Patricia Smithwick; granddaughter, Dorothy Adelaide Swain, who was named after his mother; brother Roger; and many close friends.

Born October 27, 1959, Speedy juggled his time between Hyde, Md., Middleburg, and Long Island, NY. He spent his summers on the Mrs. Phipps’ estate watching his dad train steeplechase legends such as Neji and Top Bid. Together with Eva, the couple began their flat-track careers training for the late Jack Kent Cooke in California and Kentucky. And it was on the flat where Speedy found a path different from his parents and his true passion. 

He raced across the country at tracks like Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Saratoga, the Fairgrounds, Keeneland, Churchill, Gulfstream, Belmont, Arlington, and made friends along the way, some of whom would stay with him for the remainder of his life, like his beloved groom Clementino Salazar. He trained multiple graded stakes winners for various owners; some of his favorites included Ziggy’s Act, Zignew, Glacial, and Sauve Voir Faire. 

Speedy could recall with clarity every horse he trained or rode, which made him an fascinating storyteller. After the death of his mother, Speedy would return to Sunny Bank Farm in Middleburg, where he and Eva would dabble in steeplechase, foxhunting, and herding cattle. Speedy was known for his sense of humor, his kindness, and his optimism. 

A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, VA on Monday, May 16 at 11am with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs.

Here’s a link to his full obituary: https://www.tributearchive.com/obituaries/24690231/daniel-m-smithwick-jr

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