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Kentucky Derby contender Anthony's Cross puts owner on the rise
The woman who owns Anthony’s Cross is a lot of things. She’s a fashion designer, a mother, and a self-described positive thinker. She’s also a de Kwiatkowski, the daughter of one of Thoroughbred racing’s most colorful and successful owners, the late Henryk de Kwiatkowski, and his first wife, the late Minerva Stud Farm owner Lynne de Kwiatkowski Russo. Arianne de Kwiatkowski, 44, said she honors her family history in the sport, but she is also determined to make her own way in the sport with A D K Racing.
If Anthony’s Cross continues to improve, that path could lead to the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Eoin Harty is pointing him for the April 9 Santa Anita Derby. In his last start, Anthony’s Cross held off a tough challenge by Riveting Reason to win the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a nose.
“I believe I have a great horse,” de Kwiatkowski said. “If we make it to the Derby, it’s super, but I’m not going to run him in two more races just to make sure it’s guaranteed. I think he’ll just have the one more race.”
Anthony’s Cross refers to a gold cross de Kwiatkowski received on the birth of her son, Anthony. Arianne de Kwiatkowski said racing always has been bound up in family memories for her, some happier than others. She remembers glorious days in the early 1980s when Conquistador Cielo, de La Rose, and Sabin – to name just a few – carried her father’s silks. But Sabin also was named for a lawyer who handled her parents’ divorce, she said.
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“Part of that time was so amazing and passionate, and yet the whole world was distant and torn apart,” de Kwiatkowski said. “And the horses were so great, at the same time. We were children with so many questions. I remember so many feelings that I hold on to, and the horses were the beautiful part. Kennelot Stable was a real family legacy.”
Arianne de Kwiatkowski couldn’t use her father’s silks for her stable, but her colors are similar: red and white with cross sashes but with red stars instead of her father’s red polka dots.
“I’ve always been interested in horses, for sure,” said de Kwiatkowski, who grew up with four sisters and one brother. “Ever since I was quite little, the others would have to go off to sailing classes. My mum would drop me off, too, and I’d disappear from sailing and walk over to some stables where they did local horse shows. I would always go to the track with my mother when we had those great, great horses with Woody Stephens. So, yes, that’s in the blood. My mother had a lot of the passion and always went to the track in the morning, and she bred that into me. And my father had a great business sense.”
After her father died in 2003, de Kwiatkowski and her brother Stephan moved to his Calumet Farm to help manage it on behalf of the family trust. Four years later, she left to found her own racing stable, now based in Los Angeles with Eoin Harty.
“I thought, ‘I’ve got to find my Woody Stephens,’ ” she said. “Eoin’s a wonderful trainer, and there’s a similarity in how well we work together. Of course, my father had a lot of say, but he and Woody balanced each other out. That’s what I love about Eoin. He’s very consistent, where I can be very passionate. And he’s a wonderful, honest, real horseman.”
De Kwiatkowski also credits good advice from agents, including Marette Farrell and Headley Bell as factors in her stable’s current success.
De Kwiatkowski first saw Anthony’s Cross just a half-hour before he went in the auction ring at Fasig-Tipton’s 2009 Saratoga select yearling sale. She said she was impressed by his unflappable demeanor and strong-boned physique.
“I like colts, because they’re very straightforward,” she said. “Anthony’s Cross was Hip No. 10, and a half-hour before the bidding started, Eoin said, ‘This is a good horse.’ It was our first time bidding together, and I didn’t know which one of us would be raising our hand. The bidding was moving really fast, and then it got to $290,000 and just stopped. I said, ‘Do you think he’s still worth it?’ He said, ‘Hell yes,’ so I thought that was my chance. I raised my hand just one time for $300,000 and bought him.”
A D K Racing bought Anthony’s Cross at Saratoga from Derry Meeting Farm, the same consignor that sold Danzig to Henryk de Kwiatkowski at the Saratoga yearling sale in 1978.
After Arianne signed the ticket for Anthony’s Cross, another consignor, Craig Bandoroff, told her she ought to take a look in Fasig-Tipton’s office on the sale grounds.
“It was late at night, and they brought me into the office,” de Kwiatkowski said. “There was a photograph in a beautiful frame. It was of Woody Stephens and my father. My father is leaning in toward Woody, totally trusting Woody, and they were buying a horse in the Saratoga sale.”
Anthony’s Cross is her best-known horse at the moment, but de Kwiatkowski has more ties to racing and breeding. Her holdings include broodmares in Argentina, four horses in training with Harty, a share in the Danzig stallion Survivalist, and the broodmares Distorted Love and Princess Anya (Princess Anya from a Kennelot Stable family) here in the States.
“People look at me and think this has all happened very quickly,” she said. “But it’s not because I’m the luckiest person in the world. I am very lucky, but I also listen a lot and swallow my pride when I get burned, and I take it as a lesson and move on.”
Of her life and legacy with horses, she said, “All of this is a story I want to share, because it’s about keeping tradition alive.
And maybe starting a new one at Churchill Downs in May? Henryk de Kwiatkowski never won the Kentucky Derby. His daughter says she will make the attempt − but only if it’s right for her horse.
“I don’t think I want to push him before the Derby, because if we do get in, that’s already a hell of a trail already,” she said. “If not, there are plenty of other good races.”