American Pharoah, the first horse to win racing's Triple Crown since 1978, has come out as gay in an exclusive interview with Outsports, saying "I want to own my truth."
"I'm happy to announce that I am a proud gay colt," American Pharoah said via Skype from his stall on his farm in Kentucky, three days after winning the Belmont. "I waited until after the Triple Crown because I did not want to be a distraction. Being gay is just a part of who I am and doesn't define me. I'm not a gay race horse. I'm a race horse that happens to be gay."
The National Thoroughbred Racing Assn. issued a statement of support, saying: "To his friends and fellow horses throughout the sport, American Pharaoh is universally regarded as a class act. All of us are very proud of him." The horse's owner, Ahmed Zayat, said that American Pharoah was a champion and he supported him regardless if he was "gay, straight, bi or a gelding, as long as he keeps winning." His jockey, Victor Espinoza, noted the historical significance, saying it was cool that this was the first Triple Crown won by a Latino jockey and an openly gay horse.
American Pharoah, 3, is the first winner of a Triple Crown race to come out openly as gay. There were rumors about 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, but he has long denied them, saying "I'm not gay. I really, really like fillies."
The new Triple Crown winner said he decided to come out so he can be a role model for other athletes. He said he does not expect to lose any endorsements and hopes to land a part in a new DirecTV commercial where he plays opposite a male model, not Hannah Davis.
He said he knew he was gay since he was a foal and would lay in his stall, sucking on a sugar cube and wishing his feelings would go away. "I was alone but even at a young age I knew I didn't like fillies and found colts attractive instead," he said. "I could never tell anyone since my family is really conservative and religious."
He first came out to his best friend, a filly on his farm in Kentucky, and she told American Pharoah that she loved him no matter what. He next left a letter in the stables for his parents and anxiously awaited their reply, fearing rejection. They texted him back within an hour, American Pharoah recalled with joy, his dad writing, "You are still a great son and I am proud of you."
American Pharoah said he learned one valuable lesson: "Be true to yourself and it will make all the difference. I think that being gay doesn’t make you any less of horse. If anything, it makes you a better horse." He wrote "#BeTrue" on his shoes prior to the Belmont to show his new-found confidence in his sexual orientation.
Despite being a proud out gay horse, American Pharoah said he will still go to stud. "It's great money and I need to make a living," he said. "Besides, I will just close my eyes and think about that stallion in stall 8. Talk about 'hung like a race horse.' "

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