Douglas R. Small, horse breeder and sailor


April 07, 2006

Douglas R. Small, a retired thoroughbred horse breeder and trans-Atlantic sailor, died in his sleep Monday at Strathmore Stud, his Monkton farm. He was 86.

Mr. Small was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He was a 1938 graduate of St. George's School in Newport, R.I.

He attended the University of Pennsylvania before enlisting in the Army in 1941. He served in the European Theater in intelligence and attained the rank of major.

After the war, he returned to Monkton, where he was a steeplechase rider and began a career breeding and training racehorses, including Mister Diz.

The horse, once described by an Evening Sun racing reporter as "somewhat of an ugly duckling except when he's winning," was named for the late Frank Rosenfeld - who was known as Mister Diz - and was one of the city's and racing's great characters.

Mister Diz, the horse, went on to become a five-time Maryland champion and the Mister Diz Stakes - a five-furlong race for Maryland breeds held annually at Pimlico Race Course - recalls the career of the legendary backstretch favorite.

Mr. Small retired in 1977.

He was also an accomplished ocean sailor who enjoyed sailing his boat from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine.

He had crossed the Atlantic several times while navigator aboard the Reindeer.

He was the owner of the Hotspur, and his last boat was the 30-foot Patience, an Allied Seawind ketch.

Mr. Small was a past president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and from 1975 to 1985 was a master of foxhounds and huntsman for the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club.

His wife of 36 years, the former Jane Watters, died in 1977.

He was a communicant of St. James Episcopal Church, 3100 Monkton Road, Monkton, where a memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Surviving are four sons, Douglas R. Small Jr. of Onacock, Va., Richard W. Small of McDonogh, Stephen F. Small of Los Angeles, and Alastair W. Small of Upperco; two daughters, Sarah E. Merryman of Port Deposit and Jacqueline C. Small of Upperco; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. A marriage to Jennifer Rowland ended in divorce.

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