American Cleopatra

It came as a shock to horse racing fans everywhere on Monday when the news broke. After a stunning Triple Crown triumph, the first in 37 years, the prized horse “American Pharoah” announced to a sea of microphones, flashbulbs and frantic reporters that he was really a mare trapped in a steed’s body. Repeat–He confessed he is a female horse trapped in a male horse’s body. How? Through a complicated combination of hoof clops and whinnying and with the help of a rare equine translator, the thoroughbred champion admitted to grappling with issues of gender identity.

“I ponder my reflection in the water trough. I see this beautiful mane, this slender neck, radiant coat and these callipygean haunches and I know that there is a female horse inside of me who is just crying to get out,” he communicated.

The announcement ends rampant speculation about some of American Pharoah’s more questionable habits. Repeated trips to the groomer. Excessive prancing. His obsession with only the finest Neuhaus Belgian chocolates. Rumored collagen injections. His fascination with the drag performer RuPaul and other tendencies typically not seen in any horse, champion or otherwise.

“I’d like to add further,” said American Pharoah, “I understand that this announcement is not without recent precedent.”

The owners of the history-making stallion, the Zayat family, could not be reached for comment, although they are likely very distressed at the possibility of losing potential stud fees of up to $100,000 a foal due to lack of interest. American Pharoah tried to appease such concerns, but avoided questions about his sexuality, simply clopping out a vague, “I like what I like.”

“Sure he can still sire champions,” said an anonymous source close to the Winstar breeding company, “but will he be able to sire champions that aren’t all wishy-washy?”

The reaction among the classic breeder dynasties reflects a somewhat outdated, conservative attitude toward issues of gender among the handful of elite stallions in the racing community. With so much at stake, though, they may be forced to temper their atavistic stereotypes. A winner is a winner, no matter what their personal issues may be. “I’m not at all surprised, really,” the source continued. “We oversee his father, Pioneerof the Nile. There’s a dandy if there ever was one. He’s got to huff male urine before he can get excited. Not even Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet got that weird. And it takes him like five mounts to get the job done and he’s got to have a mirror positioned just so he can watch himself the whole time and his favorite movie is Spartacus. We all know what that adds up to. It’s like everybody knows but nobody wants to talk about it. It’s the five-hundred pound gorilla in the room, or to be blunt, the five-hundred pound big gay horse.”

A few of the descendants of the late “Mr. Ed” remarked that their great-grandfather, a notorious bigot, would’ve been horrified at the announcement. “A horse is a horse of course but guys is guys and dames is dames and I’d rather be trapped by the red commie scourge than watch some galloping twist let it all hang out for the gossip mags,” was one of his more common outbursts, usually after he had gotten into his gin.

Not everyone was critical of the announcement. There was a whinny of relief from some of American Pharoah’s competitors who applauded the courage it took to admit to something so personal. “I always knew,” clopped a horse named Frosted. “Actually I think there is a lot more of this type of thing in the business than any stallion would care to admit. Hell, half the reason he wins is because the other horses get behind him to watch his ass while he runs.”

One thing is clear. The trend is trending. The road is wending. The gender is bending. Today’s male sports hero is tomorrow’s centerfold model. Retirement is a tricky thing. Nobody wants to believe that their life is reduced in the golden years to some sort of epilogue where they sit around and wonder whence all the glory and fame and honor have returned. It is particularly vexing for male athletes. The body will simply not be able to meet the demands of rigorous professional competition as it approaches its fiftieth, sixtieth year. And if the sport is particularly grueling, as it is in a contact sport like football, the lesions on the brain from season after season of heavy collisions will leave little to no ability for academic pursuits. What then but a feminine ideal to be objectified and adored. They already have the muscle tone. The testosterone dwindles naturally. A nip here and a tuck there and suddenly there is a whole new career as a pinup gal, something to inspire the fellows fightin’ overseas and to add that bit of feminine mystique to the dull routine of life stateside.

Already the winning stubs from the Belmont race are being sought after as collector items. There is still upwards of $300 grand worth of unclaimed winnings. It is one thing to hold the winning ticket for a triple crown winner, it is another entirely to hold it for the first transgender triple crown winner. If the business model proves lucrative there will be a range of sports stars who make the jump to womanhood. LeBrana James, Tory Aikman, and Bo Derek Jeter will be just a few of the names that’ll be circulating in the upcoming decades. As for American Pharoah, the sky is the limit. There was no mention of a name change. Not yet, anyway. I think American Cleopatra has a nice ring to it. She will be in attendance at all the important galas. She will model the latest in European caparisons. She will bathe in rosewater and attar. She will keep the farriers busy with constant re-shoeing, something in a pump, perhaps, as she struts across the bluegrass hills of Kentucky, a grand symbol of the power of the modern day female icon.

More Alembics to come.

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