Horse trainer Eric Guillot has been banned by the New York Racing Association and 1/ST Racing for changing the name of one of his horses to a racial slur, which was directed at a Black TVG analyst.
Guillot, who has made $13 million over his career from horses he trained, tweeted on Jan. 1 that the three-year-old colt he was running at Aqueduct Racetrack was being given a new name “in honor of a TVG analyst,” and followed that with a Black fist emoji. He revealed in a follow-up tweet that the name of the horse was “Grape Soda,” which can be a racist term directed at Black people.
Widespread outcry to Guillot’s name change
According to the Paulick Report, Guillot later admitted that the tweet was “in honor of” Ken Rudolph, a Black analyst for the horse racing network TVG. When the horse came in No. 1 at Aqueduct on Friday, Rudulph tweeted a response to not just the name Guillot chose for the horse, but to the racism he sees all over the racing industry.
The winner in race #1 from Aqueduct is the perfect example of my issue with horse racing. The winning trainer is a disgusting and racist man. But, if you want to make money in this game you have to be able to ignore that stuff. I can't do it. But y'all carry on with your $11.
— Ken Rudulph (@MrKenRudulphTV) January 8, 2021
In response to the revelations about the horse’s name, numerous racing organizations banned Guillot. David O’Rourke of the the New York Racing association released this statement.
“Racism is completely unacceptable in all forms. NYRA rejects Eric Guillot's toxic words and divisive behavior in the strongest terms. At this time, he will no longer be permitted to enter horses at any NYRA track nor will he be allocated stalls on NYRA grounds. In addition, we will review what further steps may be available to us. Our racing community is diverse, and we stand for inclusion.”
1/ST Racing, which owns several race tracks, also released a statement condemning Guillot and banning him from racing or training at their facilities.
"1/ST Racing stands firmly against the inexcusable actions of trainer Eric Guillot. There is no place in the sport of Thoroughbred racing for racism in any form. Our company will not tolerate the use of hateful and divisive language or behavior.
"1/ST Racing agrees fully with the New York Racing Association's move to ban Mr. Guillot from racing and will take the same action. Mr. Guillot is no longer welcomed at any 1/ST Racing track."
Cypress Creek Equine, which owned the horse when it ran at Aqueduct on Friday, issued a statement to the New York Times indicating that Guillot was no longer employed by them.
“Cypress Creek Equine would like to denounce the actions of their former trainer Eric Guillot. 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.”
TVG also took action against Guillot on behalf of Rudulph, saying in a statement that they would no longer air any races Guillot is involved in.
— TVG (@TVG) January 9, 2021
Owner changes horse’s name
Lawrence Roman, who now owns the horse, told BloodHorse that he didn’t know about the controversy when he made the claim for the horse. When he found out, he decided to rename the horse Respect For All, and vowed to donate 10 percent of its earnings to the Backstretch Employee Service Team at the New York Racing Association.
"When I heard about the controversy, which I knew nothing of at the time of the claim, you have to make something good out of a bad situation and this is a bad situation. Nobody should ever name a horse in a manner that's disrespectful of anyone. You have to do the right thing. I love the sport and we don't need more controversy with this kind of stuff. We all want to win. That's good controversy, but stuff like this, we don't need this. It's terrible. Hopefully people will now root for the horse and we'll do something good for people through the earnings."
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