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Washington International Horse Show: Archie Cox makes a name for himself as a trainer

By Jonas Shaffer,

A former Goldman Sachs director was sentenced for insider trading two days ago and a presidential campaign will end in 10. It was against that backdrop that Archibald Cox III arrived in Washington this week, a grandson of perhaps its best-known special prosecutor and the son of a former bank chairman.

For so long, being Archibald Cox meant being compared to the two men who share his name. He was their progeny, and so he had their shadows. Here, though, deep in the bowels of the hay-and-dung-scented Verizon Center, Archibald Cox III is Archie. And Archie is here not for President Obama or interest rates or anything his lineage might suggest. He’s here for horses.

“The horses . . . I didn’t necessarily think were a profession that my family would approve of,” said Cox, 44, as he sandwiched an interview between competition at the Washington International Horse Show and a client lunch.

Now they approve, Cox said with a laugh. Even his father, former Barclays American chairman Archibald Jr., is “a very proud parent.” Named Horseman of the Year last year by the California Professional Horseman’s Association, the trainer has seen his pupils and horses accrue 40-plus national championships since opening Brookway Stables in 2000.

He has four horses competing at a venue not three miles from the Watergate hotel, the site of the infamous 1972 break-in that prompted his grandfather one year later to leave Harvard for an appointment as special prosecutor.

Archie’s name and fame might have come from Archibald III, but not the love of horses. That was Grandma’s doing. Phyllis Cox involved herself with the American Morgan Horse Association and the American Horse Shows Association, and for Archie, each summer meant another trip to see her and her horses in Brooksville, Maine. Before long, he had a horse and a glut of honors won riding it.

After a decorated career at Drew University in New Jersey, though, he wondered what was next for him.

“I looked at being a lobbyist because when I grab hold of something, it really is a passion,” he said. “I considered teaching. But why not teach what I love to do? That’s how the horses started.”

After a brief stint in New Jersey, he crossed the country to work with established trainer Karen Healey. For eight years, he did whatever he had to to climb the sport’s lofty rungs. He trained and rode, braided and cleaned.

“Nothing is above you, nothing is below you,” Cox said.

“Most people, if they stop and think outside of the horse world, they’ll recognize my name,” Cox added. “But at my age and my business, I pretty much stand on my own.”

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