Written by Kathy Smithwick Swain
Photo Courtesy of the Smithwick Family
Daniel M. Smithwick Jr., “Speedy,” 62, of Middleburg, Virginia, passed away on April 23, 2022.
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 Hyde, Maryland, Middleburg, Virginia, and Long Island, New York. He spent his summers on Mrs. Phipps’ estate 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 wins including the 1984 Virginia Gold Cup, the 1985 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, and the Iroquois Steeplechase (three different times)! On December 10, 1988, Speedy would marry the love of his life, Eva Dahlgren, who shared his passion and gift with horses. Together, these two would take a big leap of faith and start their flat track careers training for the late Jack Kent Cooke in California and Kentucky. On the flat track is where Speedy found a path different from his parents and his true passion. He raced all across the country at tracks like Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Saratoga, the Fairgrounds, Keeneland, Churchill, Gulfstream, Belmont, Arlington, and 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. He 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 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. 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 his many, many dear friends. A memorial service will be held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, Virginia, on Monday, May 16 at 11 a.m. 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.
This article first appeared in the May 2022 Issue.