The Trump Files: There Once Was a Horse Named DJ Trump

Ivylise Simones

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Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of GOP nominee Donald Trump.

During the late 1980s, before his empire came crashing down, Donald Trump was on a buying spree. In 1988 alone, he purchased the Plaza Hotel in New York City (for $407 million), an airline (for $365 million), and Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal (with costs that ballooned to $1 billion). Yet, for the man who had everything, there was still something missing: a racehorse.

In the spring of 1988, Steve Hyde, the chief executive of Trump’s casino business, was approached by a racehorse owner named Robert LiButti—who also happened to be a mob associate—who was selling a horse with an impressive pedigree and “Triple Crown potential,” according to former Trump employee John O’Donnell’s book Trumped!. The asking price for the racehorse, named Alibi, was $500,000. Trump agreed to buy Alibi, on the condition that the horse be renamed DJ Trump.

But the process didn’t go so smoothly. Shortly after making the deal, Trump—as is his style—began trying to renegotiate it.

Time suspiciously passed with no payment, and LiButti grew frustrated. Since Trump was convinced his name alone was worth $250,000, O’Donnell writes, Trump insisted on a discount on Alibi. LiButti reluctantly agreed, convinced by colleagues that a Trump investment in the racing industry would be good for business. It was then that the demands began. Trump insisted the horse be trained in vigorous workouts so that he could be delivered as soon as possible from Florida in racing shape.

But the workouts contributed to an unexpected outcome. The horse, wracked with a virus compounded by the training, became sick. According to Michael D’Antonio’s book The Truth About Trump, a veterinarian had to amputate Alibi’s front hooves to save him from death. The horse could no longer race, and when Trump found out, the businessman promptly backed out of the deal.

Hyde, Trump’s executive, would eventually arrange a deal for his wife to buy the debilitated horse, according to O’Donnell, who writes, “that fall, he [Hyde] began to talk frequently of the day when he would leave Donald.”

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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