Mere days after allegations of a champion’s doping rocked the horse-racing world, another controversy involving another champion just might give the LGBTQ community its first equine icon.
After winning the Triple Crown, now-retired racehorse American Pharoah has been accused by of “biting” Vice President Mike Pence’s arm by none other than the execrable Trump lackey himself. As Deadspin’s Maitreyi Anantharaman wrote yesterday,
At a meeting of House Republicans in Baltimore on Friday, Mike Pence offered a vaguely perturbing, folksy anecdote about Triple Crown winner American Pharoah once biting him on the arm, turning it into a dopey metaphor for resilience and also evidence that Republicans could take back the House, or something like that.
Pence was quoted saying, in part, “American Pharoah bit me so hard on the arm I almost collapsed … [but] I just gritted my teeth and smiled because you know what, in our line of work, you’re going to get bit sometimes.”
How charming, folksy and not at all ham-fisted or contrived-sounding!
Pence’s Story Disputed (and Ridiculous)
According to McClatchy’s Lesley Clark, however, American Pharoah’s farm manager has flat-out denied the allegations:
[Manager] Dermot Ryan, who was there as Pence was presented with an American Pharoah halter [in 2018], said Friday it would be out of character for a horse he described as “sweet.”
“If he gave someone a nasty bite, I’d know it,” Ryan said. He said Coolmore’s Ashford Stud [equine facility] in Versailles was “very honored” to have the vice president visit and called him “very pleasant.”
(Ryan’s comment about “knowing” if his horse had bit someone raises the question: Do horses make guilty faces when they do something wrong? If they’re anything like dogs, looks of “shame” might actually be humans projecting. Hmm. Curiouser and curiouser!)
"I’m a horse guy. I said, ‘Yeah, let me hold him,’ ” Pence said. But then, he said, American Pharaoh “bit me so hard on the arm, I almost collapsed.” https://t.co/e2yi9b2CEH
— lesley clark (@lesleyclark) September 13, 2019
Conflicting reports from the time suggest we might never know the truth about Pence’s claims. U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) said he saw a significant “bruise” on the Vice President’s arm afterward, but Horse Racing Nation, “which covers U.S. Thoroughbred racing” and reported on Pence’s visit, omitted any mention of a bite, also according to McClatchy.
Though some horses can and do “nip and bite,” albeit rarely, according to one research paper, many equine enthusiasts on social media expressed skepticism. Others simply had a ball with the image of a stately, impeccably trained horse biting a less-than-beloved Trump administration official.
Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh apparently bit Mike Pence while he was visiting the horse’s farm.
If I am a Democrat I immediately give this horse the highest civilian honor, a future Presidential Medal of Freedom, and like 68 sugar cubes per day.
— Jesse Lifson (@DoYouEvenLIf) September 15, 2019
Or in other news Horse bites horses ass. https://t.co/dQGFT2nvtf
— Tom Colicchio (@tomcolicchio) September 15, 2019
So is Crazy-maned American Pharaoh going to be on the receiving end of a Trump Tweet storm today? “I don’t know this horse, but he is the worst. Everyone says he is the worst. It took him 3 races to get the crown…sad…”
— Cherie (@cherielynn422) September 15, 2019
The horse could not be reached for comment.