Horse racing news has been pretty wild these days, especially during a time where its biggest series of events — the Triple Crown — is months away. Earlier this week we learned that Justify, who won the Triple Crown in 2018, actually failed a drug test before the Kentucky Derby. And now another one of our horsey heroes has had their reputation besmirched by allegations of malfeasance.
Another Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, who won the Triple Crown for the first time in nearly four decades in 2015, recently saw one of its offsprings sell for a record price. But vice president Mike Pence has apparently taken it upon himself to drag a heroic sporting figure’s name through the proverbial mud.
On Saturday, Pence was speaking in Baltimore at a policy retreat for House Republicans and claimed that when he visited American Pharoah, the horse bit him. Hard.
Here's Mike Pence making bizarre facial expressions while telling a story today about American Pharoah purportedly biting him. The manager of the farm where the incident allegedly occurred has already gone on record to say it never happened: https://t.co/G6KeVBNbK6 pic.twitter.com/PPBMI5qICC
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 13, 2019
“Andy and I are standing there posing for the cameras, and American Pharaoh bit me so hard on the arm I almost collapsed,” Pence said, stopping to laugh.
The story isn’t just equine slander for slander’s sake, Pence was using it as a metaphor for adversity in politics.
“I just gritted my teeth and smiled because you know what, in our line of work you’re gonna get bit sometimes but you keep fighting forward,” Pence said.
The problem is, the humans closest to American Pharoah say it never happened. Pence’s visit to Ashford Stud Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, came in March of 2018, when he was campaigning for Republican Garland “Andy” Barr. But farm manager Dermott Ryan told McClachy DC that it didn’t happen.
But farm manager Dermot Ryan, who was there as Pence was presented with an American Pharoah halter, 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 in Versailles was “very honored” to have the vice president visit and called him “very pleasant.”
It is important to note that this meeting did happen, as there are photos of Pence in front of the horse. There just isn’t any evidence of the horse on politician crime right now.
VP Meets AP: Vice President Mike Pence receives an American Pharoah halter from Coolmore's Charlie O'Connor and Dermot Ryan during a March 7 visit to Lexington as the Triple Crown winner looks on at Ashford Stud (Photo courtesy of Coolmore) pic.twitter.com/pKXAPnh4wy
— BloodHorse (@BloodHorse) March 7, 2018
Believe what you will, but many on Twitter were very skeptical of this attack on American Pharoah’s character.
Pardon the subtweet, but American Pharoah was one of the kindest, most even-tempered racehorses I’ve ever been near. You could rub noses with that guy.
— Tim Layden (@ByTimLayden) September 15, 2019
Mike pounce framing a horse is my new favorite faux controversy of 2019 or whatever year it is https://t.co/KLSGUavIuf
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) September 15, 2019
There’s really no way of knowing the truth here, but one thing is certain: Donald Trump is almost certainly going to slander a horse soon on Twitter.