Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Ky., raises the Eucharist during Mass on Sept. 21 at Ashford Stud Farm. On the left, 2015 Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah watches Mass from his stall. The Mass was part of Chicago Auxiliary Bishop John Manz’s pastoral visit to migrant workers in Kentucky on behalf of the USCCB Sept. 19-22, 2016. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
By Joyce Duriga
LEXINGTON, Ky. — “American Pharoah is on this farm,” Karen said.
“Shut. Up,” I said. “Really? Do you think they’ll let us see him?”
“Nah, he’s probably in a secure area,” she said.
Well, it turned out that not only did we get to see American Pharoah but we participated in the first Mass ever to be said next to his stall where he now lives at Ashford Stud Farm in Lexington.
If you don’t know, American Pharoah is a rock star horse who won the Triple Crown in 2015 — the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. Before American Pharoah, the last horse to win the Triple Crown was Affirmed in 1978. Only 12 horses have ever won the Triple Crown in the 147-year history of the three races.
We ended up at the Mass because Karen Callaway, photo editor for the Catholic New World, Chicago’s archdiocesan newspaper, and I were covering Chicago Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz’s pastoral visit to migrant workers on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church. Every year he makes a trip to some part of the country to meet with workers. This year’s trip focused on those who work in the horse racing industry.
Ashford Stallion Manager Richard Barry introduces American Pharoah to Bishop Manz on Sept. 21. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
While the bishop did meet with the workers at Ashford, the visit to the stud farm was sort of a perk. The owners of Ashford are Catholic and often donate American Pharaoh’s halters to be auctioned off at Catholic school fundraisers. They, with other local Catholic farm owners, provide scholarships to students in Catholic schools that will follow them all the way through to high school.
So American Pharaoh is used to the attention. You can walk right up to his stall and talk to him. I had a moment with him by myself and I told him we were going to have Mass right there and Jesus (Read More)