Vice President Mike Pence is claiming that Triple Crown winner American Pharoah bit him so hard in the arm during his 2018 visit to Kentucky that he almost collapsed.
Dermot Ryan, the farm manager who was present when Pence was presented with an American Pharoah halter, spoke out on Friday stating that American Pharoah was “sweet” and biting anyone was completely out of character for the horse.
“If he gave someone a nasty bite, I’d know it,” Ryan said.
Pence told his horse tale for the first time while giving a speech in Baltimore on Friday at a retreat for House Republicans.
“In our line of work, you’re going to get bit sometimes, but you keep fighting forward,” Pence said.
Pence claims that the incident with American Pharoah, who won the Triple Crown in 2015, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Pence traveled to Kentucky in March of 2018 on behalf of Rep. Andy Barr, who faced a competitive race against Amy McGrath.
Barr was with Pence but says that he did not see Pence get bit. He did add that Pence had a bruise that he later “showed off on Air Force Two,” but it was a bruise, not a bite said spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker.
Pence said he was excited about the invitation and that he had grown up watching the Kentucky Derby from afar. He added that he and his wife, Karen, liked to go horseback riding whenever they could.
During his speech on Friday, Pence described Coolmore as a “very fancy Kentucky farm” where “everything was really manicured really nice.” He adds that there was a crowd of cameras around as he was asked if he wanted to hold Pharoah’s reins.
“I’m a horse guy. I said, ‘Yeah, let me hold him’” Pence then stated that American Pharoah “bit me so hard on the arm, I almost collapsed.”
“I just gritted my teeth and smiled, because you know what? In our line of work, you’re going to get bit sometimes, but you keep fighting forward,” Pence said. “And we did. And Andy Barr brought it across.”
During his visit Pence visited ‘More Than a Bakery’ in Versailles and told a crowd there that he had met American Pharoah because “I like to be around winners,” but didn’t mention the bite nor did he display having any type of injury or pain.
Pence returned to Kentucky earlier this year and reportedly told a crowd at the Governor’s Derby Eve Gala that Pharoah “bit me so hard, it left a mark and I show it to people the whole time.”
Pence also told the crowd that during the visit he sampled some horse feed.
“I did go ahead and take a little nibble of it,” Pence told the crowd at Hallway Feeds. “I think that increases the likelihood that the next winner of the Kentucky Derby and I had the same thing for dinner.”
Despite Pence’s claims no one who was present while Pence received the harness saw the horse bite him and all referred to the horse as “sweet” and “gentle.”