Theodorus Van Wyck Cushny III (Wyck), a former steeplechase jockey, died at his home in Locust Valley, N.Y., on March 22 after a long illness. He was 35 years old.
Cushny was born into a horse loving family of competitive riders and gravitated to horse racing at a young age, commuting from his childhood home in Locust Valley, New York to Maryland and Pennsylvania to compete in pony races on his ponies Possum and Bit O’ Cut.
He was mentored by former steeplechase jockeys Ross R. Pearce, James W. Maloney, Jr., Jonathan Kiser, Vivian Rall and Tom Voss.
He won his first NSA-sanctioned race at Fairfax in 1999 and followed that up with a win at Montpelier in 2000, both of those victories coming in flat races.
In 2001, at age 19, Cushny rode in 31 National Steeplechase Association sanctioned steeplechase races, compiling a record of 1-8-4, with the victory coming over timber in the John Rush Streett Memorial at My Lady’s Manor aboard Kanawa for trainer Jack Fisher.
The following year he made two trips to the winner’s circle from 15 mounts, including a 41-length maiden victory on Holly Pearce-trained Kittsong at the Strawberry Hill races and a triumph for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard aboard Chief Suspect at Charlotte.
Cushny loved sports of all kinds, particularly contact sports like football, hockey and lacrosse.
He particularly loved to play hockey and starting playing organized hockey at age 5 as a mini mite at Beaver Dam in Locust Valley, N.Y.
He was co-captain of the Bantam team at Beaver Dam as a 9th grader.
He continued to play hockey through high school when he played for Millbrook School and his North Shore High School team.
He made the varsity hockey team at Millbrook in his first year there, the only 10th grader to do so.
He also loved swimming and surfing.
At a funeral mass at St. Mary’s Church in Roslyn, N.Y., on March 25, Cushny was remembered for his love of animals, his kind-hearted spirit and his mischievous smile.
He is survived by his father, Theodorus Van Wyck Cushny Jr. (Van) and wife Alix, his mother, Wendy Doubleday Havens, his stepfather, John P. Havens, his sisters Kim Cushny Roddy and Lilly Havens, his grandmother, Florence Chase (daughter of noted steeplechase owner Lillian Bostwick Phipps), his uncles and aunts: Lillian Cushny, Michael Cushny and wife Betty, Coralie Cushny Galyean and husband Brad, Lillian Doubleday Woodworth, Nanki Doubleday and Phoebe Doubleday Timpson and husband Billy; nephew Thomas Roddy and great-aunt Sara Cavanagh Schwartz.
The family has requested that donations in his name be made to the National Steeplechase Foundation.