The New York Racing Association on Saturday barred a distinguished coach from competitions on its circuit for altering the title of 1 in every of his horses to a racial slur and taunting a Black analyst for the horse racing neighborhood TVG.
The coach, Eric Guillot, cannot enter horses or have stalls on the nation’s premier circuit. Horses he educated have earned elevated than $13 million in purses and have obtained 259 races, together with the Whitney, Test and Jim Dandy Stakes, all thought-about amongst New York’s most essential races.
“Racism is completely unacceptable in all forms,” David O’Rourke, the affiliation’s president and chief govt, acknowledged in a assertion. “NYRA rejects Eric Guillot’s toxic words and divisive behavior in the strongest terms.”
He added, “Our racing community is diverse, and we stand for inclusion.”
The Stronach Group, which owns racetracks in Maryland, Florida and California, furthermore acknowledged Saturday that it could not permit horses educated by Guillot to race at its tracks.
On New Year’s Day, Guillot tweeted that he was giving a Three-year-old colt a “unique name in honor of a TVG analyst,” along with a Black fist emoji. When a follower requested the title, he responded, “GRAPE SODA,” which is able to practically undoubtedly be a racist time interval directed at African-Americans.
The following day, Guillot tweeted as shortly as extra in regards to the colt’s apply, characterizing it as clear as a “menthol Kool” with a Black hand giving the thumbs-up image. The tweet was later deleted.
The colt was owned on the time by Cypress Creek Equine, which issued a assertion to The Thoroughbred Daily News suggesting that Guillot was not employed there.
“Cypress Creek Equine would like to denounce the actions of their former trainer Eric Guillot,” the assertion acknowledged. “Mr. Guillot will no longer train for or represent Cypress Creek Equine due to his action on social media. Cypress Creek apologizes for any ill feelings and does not condone this type of behavior.”
The horse was initially named Kirkstetter, nonetheless the title was modified to the offensive time interval on Dec. 29, information present.
Telephone calls to Guillot went unanswered. On Twitter, nonetheless, he acknowledged the title Grape Soda had been chosen for his love of the drink as a teen. He furthermore sent a tweet suggesting that he was stepping away from the sport, saying that his first day of retirement was “going awesome.”
Guillot’s remarks were widely believed to have been directed at Ken Rudulph, the only African-American analyst at TVG. On Friday, after the horse won his debut race at Aqueduct, horse enthusiasts lit up social media about Guillot and the slur.
On Twitter, Rudulph said he was the target of Guillot’s tweets and denounced racism in horse racing as a longstanding problem.
In July, for instance, amid the widespread tumult over the death of George Floyd in police custody, Tom VanMeter, a prominent Kentucky horse owner and sales consignor, posted a racist comment on Facebook directed at the N.F.L., whose players are predominantly Black.
But the incident also brought attention to the lack of diversity at the top levels of horse racing. The Jockey Club, for example, does not have an African-American among its 128 members and has just five people of color among its 286 employees. Keeneland, which sold more than $627 million in horses last year, also does not have a single African-American executive or board member among its leadership.
“Y’all sent lots of angry tweets and DM’s my way,” Rudulph tweeted. “Received text messages from friends and colleagues. Many viewers attacked and questioned my perspective. I told you that horse racing has a TON of racists hiding in plain sight. Now … what are you gonna do about it? Let’s go.”
And what of the horse?
After winning on Friday, the colt was bought for $25,000 by Lawrence Roman. He said that he had had no idea the name was a slur until the Jockey Club contacted him on Saturday morning and asked him to change it.
He not only did so but chose to rename him Respect for All, while pledging 10 percent of the colt’s purse earnings to a fund to help New York’s backstretch workers.
“I wanted to make a positive out of a negative situation,” Roman said. “This is a great sport that I have really enjoyed, and the people on the backstretch are from all over and they love and take care of these athletes. We don’t want racism in this sport.’’