photo by Tiffany Dillon Keen
Daniel M. “Speedy” Smithwick Jr., 62, of Middleburg, passed away on April 23.
Speedy’s passion was the sport of horse racing. He was born on October 27, 1959 to two Hall of Fame horse trainers, Dorothy Fred Smithwick and D.M. ‘Mikey’ Smithwick. As a child, he juggled his time between Hydes, MD and Middleburg. He spent his summers on the Ogden Phipps' estate in Old Westbury, Long Island watching his dad train steeplechase legends such as Neji and Top Bid. Later, Speedy would become one of the nation’s top amateur steeplechase jockeys with victories in the 1984 Virginia Gold Cup, the 1985 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, and the Iroquois Steeplechase (three different times).
On December 10, 1988, Speedy married the love of his life, Eva Dahlgren, who shared his passion and gift with horses. Together, they took a big leap of faith and started their flat track careers training for the late Jack Kent Cooke out of Elmendorf Farm in Lexington, KY. Cooke also had a farm in Middleburg and was the former owner of the NFL Washington Redskins, the NBA Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL Los Angeles Kings and the Los Angeles Wolves of the United Soccer Association.
On the flat track, Speedy found a path different from his parents and discovered his true passion. He raced all across the country at tracks that included Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Saratoga (where he worked out of the Clark barn), the Fairgrounds, Keeneland, Churchill, Gulfstream, Belmont and Arlington Park.
He made friends wherever he went. In fact, some would stay with him for the remainder of his life, like his beloved groom Clementino Salazar. Speedy trained multiple graded stakes winners for various owners, but some of his favorite horses from those days included Ziggy’s Act, Zignew, Glacial, and Sauve Voir Faire. He could recall with vivid detail any horse that he ever trained or rode, which made him an excellent storyteller.
After the death of his mother, Speedy returned to Sunny Bank Farm in Middleburg, where he and Eva dabbled in steeplechase, foxhunting, and herding cattle. Speedy was known for his sense of humor, his kindness, and his optimism.
He was a loving father and grandfather of Dorothy, named after his late mother. Speedy is survived by his wife, Eva Smithwick; his daughters, Kathy Smithwick Swain and Patricia Smithwick; his granddaughter, Dorothy Adelaide Swain; his brother, Roger Smithwick; and many dear friends.
A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, on Monday, May 16 at 11 a.m. with a reception to follow. The family suggests memorial donations to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs.