- Michael Consani
Consani’s Corner-Racist tweet gets trainer barred
(Photo Credit: America's Best Racing)
One of the joys of horse racing is that it allows you a chance to get away from the real world and the daily drudgery of what life can drop on your doorstep. It is one of the few escapist thrills still left in our world.
Unfortunately, even the world of horse racing isn’t immune from having to deal with real devestating issues of racism.
Eric Guillot has enjoyed a moderate amount of success as a horse trainer. His horses have won 259 races and have earned $13 million in purse money. Among the prestigious races in New York that his horses have won are the Whitney and Jim Dandy Stakes.
Despite the mid-level success he has achieved, few in the world of horse racing speak fondly of Guillot who revels in abrasive and boorish behavior. In 2013, Guillot falsely alleged that jockey Luis Saez used an electronic device to illegally prod his horse, Will Take Charge to victory in the Travers Stakes. Guillot’s horse Moreno finished 2nd in that race. Despite an investigation by the NY Gaming commission that totally and completely exonerated Saez, Guillot continued to denigrate Saez to the point that Saez filed a defamation lawsuit against Guillot.
The tweet that finally brought down Guillot was this past New Year’s Day. Guillot told his followers on Twitter that he was giving a 3-year-old colt a “unique name in honor of a TVG analyst,” adding a Black fist emoji. When a follower asked the name, he responded, “GRAPE SODA,” which can be a racist term directed at African-Americans.
The following day, Guillot issued another snarky tweet regarding the horse’s workout was “as smooth as a Menthol Kool” with a black hand giving a thumbs up.
The horse won its race at Aqueduct on January 8th which prompted Ken Rudulph, TVG’s only black analyst and the obvious target of Guillot’s comment to tweet the following: “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.”
After the race, the horse was claimed by new owner Lawrence Roman for $25,000 and renamed Respect for All. Roman has also pledged 10% of the horse’s purse earnings to a fund that assists New York’s backstretch workers.
As a result of his abhorrent behavior, Guillot lost his job training for various horse owners including Cypress Creek Equine, and has lost his training privileges at all NYRA tracks. “Racism is completely unacceptable in all forms,” David O’Rourke, the NYRA’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “NYRA rejects Eric Guillot’s toxic words and divisive behavior in the strongest terms.”
The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Golden Gate as well as Laurel Park and Portland Meadows followed suit in revoking Guillot from their tracks. Besides, TVG, the predominant national horse racing channel, vowed to never air any race that one of Guillot’s horses is an entrant in.
The quick and swift punishment of Guillot’s actions provides some hope that we are heading towards a time when overt acts of racism result in zero tolerance. Another move towards equality is for TVG to hire other qualified people of color in an on-air capacity so that in the future, it will not be so easy to decipher who the “black analyst on TVG” is.
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