Mike Pence says American Pharoah the horse bit him, but the Triple Crown winner's farm manager says otherwise

Kat Tenbarge
american pharoah mike pence

Michael Reaves/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


  • Vice President Mike Pence paid the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years, American Pharoah, a visit at the farm in Versailles, Kentucky where the race horse now lives and is used for breeding. 
  • Things didn't go according to plan for Pence, who told House Republicans at a policy retreat in Baltimore on Friday that the horse bit him so hard on the arm that he almost collapsed.
  • Pence turned the bite into a metaphor for politics, saying "In our line of work, you're going to get bit sometimes, but you keep fighting."
  • However, the farm manager in Kentucky told McClatchy it would have been out of character for American Pharoah to bite someone, and said he would "know it" if the bite had transpired – which he apparently didn't.
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Vice President Mike Pence shared his story of being bit by 2015 Triple Crown winning race horse Amerian Pharoah at a policy retreat in Baltimore for House Republicans on Friday. 

But the farm manager in Versailles, Kentucky, where Pence visited the record-breaking horse, says he would "know it" if American Pharoah had really bitten Pence, suggesting that the vice president's anecdote was embellished. 

What happened, according to Pence, is that when the vice president was offered the reins of the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 37 years, American Pharoah sunk its teeth into his arm. The bite was so painful Pence said he almost collapsed. 

american pharoah

USA Today/Reuters

However, Pence told attendees at the policy retreat, "In our line of work, you're going to get bit sometimes, but you keep fighting." The bite allegedly occurred in March last year, when Pence was campaigning in Kentucky for Garland "Andy" Barr, a US representative for the state's 6th congressional district.

But farm manager Dermot Ryan, who was there at the time, told McClatchy that American Pharoah is "sweet," and that it would be out of character for the horse to chomp on the vice president's arm.

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"If he gave someone a nasty bite, I'd know it," Ryan said to McClatchy, noting that he was "very honored" to host Pence, who was "very pleasant," at the farm. Representative Barr also didn't see the bite happen, but McClatchy reports he did see a bruise later on Pence's arm when the vice president "showed it off on Air Force Two," according to spokesperson Jodi Whitaker. 

Pence told the crowd at the retreat that he was a "horse guy," and that when the bite happened, he "gritted [his] teeth and smiled."

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