Less than 24 hours ago, “The Pressbox” broke the news about the swirling Social Media controversy that surrounded trainer Eric Guillot and his 4YO horse “Grape Soda,” who broke his maiden at Aqueduct in the first race on Friday.
After some research, we found that Guillot — who is no stranger to making headlines and allegations — went on to several platforms and engaged in a “war of words” with TVG analyst Ken Rudulph.
In one post on Twitter from last week, Guillot called his horse by the nickname of “Black Beauty.” In another post last week, Guillot wrote that his horse was “…name in honor of a TVG analyst.”
Supposedly, Guillot was referring to Rudulph — who is an African-American analyst for the horse racing network.
Well, today the controversy — that we first reported — has made more headlines. And, news.
According to multiple sources now, NYRA has now ruled that Guillot no longer has access to any of its’ racetracks or their grounds. In a post by Claire (Novak) Crosby, of “The Blood-Horse,” she writes:
“NYRA says at this time Eric Buyillot is no longer permitted to enter horses at NYRA tracks no will he be allocated stalls on NYR grounds.”
NYRA went on to release this following 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.”
In addition to these actions, The Jockey Club has also announced that the horse in question will no longer run under the previous and controversial name.
In a statement, The Jockey Club — which approves all official names of Thoroughbreds racing in this country — the organization wrote:
“The Jockey Club was notified yesterday that the name Grape Soda, which was approved for a 2018 gelding, was potentially offensive. Upon review we have confirmed that the name is ineligible under Rule 6.F.11 of the Principal Rules and Requirements of the American Stud Book, and we have begun the name change process in consultation with the current owner, which must be completed as soon as possible.”
The good news is that Grape Soda was claimed out of that race on Friday by trainer Rob Atras for new owner Lawrence P. Roman. There have been multiple reports that the new owner has already renamed the gelding “Respect for All.” The new owner has also committed to sharing 10% of the horse’s earnings to the NY backstretch charity organizations.
Editor’s Note: What a wonderful new name and one highly more appropriate. And, what a great donation and cause to support.
At about noon today, noted racing journalist Bill Finley posted this on his Twitter account:
“Spoke to Eric Guillot about horse Grape Soda. He said: ‘I’ve gotten 10 calls and that’s what wrong with this country. I’m the furthest thing from racist. But if that’s what everybody wants to believe, go right ahead.’ Called uproar ‘media-frenzied stupid f….ing thing.”
On Friday night, when “The Pressbox,” contacted Guillot via Twitter, and asked for his official statement regarding the brewing controversy, the trainer wrote back quickly:
“I have no idea what that’s all about.” He finished with an emoji of a person shrugging both hands.
“The Pressbox” has now been blocked by Guillot from his Twitter account.
At one time last night, Guillot indicated on this Twitter account that the horse was named after one of his favorite drinks as a child. He wrote:
“When I went home for Xmas my 88 year Mother got a kick out of me naming a horse after my favorite drink when I was little boy she always reminded me of it for years! Ill send her a pic.”
This afternoon, TVG — the network that retains the highly professional Rudulph — released this statement:
“TVG commends NYRA for taking swift action on the matter involving Eric Guillot. There is simply no place in society for racism and we condemn his behavior, a deliberate attempt to slur one of our employees, in the strongest terms. Our network will no longer air races in which he has an entry. We also commend the action by new owner Larry Roman to change the horse’s name. We will continue to work toward making racing more inclusive and to attracting a new generation of fans to the sport.”
Alex Waldrop, the President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, also weighed in on the matter today. He wrote on Twitter:
“Applaud this swift action by @jockeyclub No place for ugly, hurtful racial, ethnic or gender stereotypes of any kind in our sport. Thank you @MrKenRudulphTV for speaking up!”