The US Jockey Club issued a statement Saturday noting the 3-year-old gelding ‘Grape Soda’, a debut winner of Aqueduct’s opener on Friday for trainer Eric Guillot, will have his named changed due to it being “potentially offensive.”
The Jockey Club’s move comes after a social media post by Guillot — which has since been deleted — stirred racial controversy when the trainer noted the horse was named after a “TVG analyst” and included a black-fist emoji. Many on social media presumed this was in reference to TVG host Ken Rudulph, who is African-American.
Grape Soda was claimed out of Friday’s win for Cypress Creek Equine by Larry Roman for $25,000. On Saturday, The Jockey Club ruled the name is ineligible under Rule 6.F.11 of the Principal Rules and Requirements of The American Stud Book and noted it was in the process of being changed.
According to David Grening of Daily Racing Form, Roman has subsequently changed the gelding’s name to Respect For All. Roman added 10 percent of Respect For All’s earnings would be donated to support New York backstretch workers.
Then later on Saturday, the New York Racing Association took action against Guillot when announcing he would no longer be allocated stalls or allowed to enter horses at any of its three tracks.
“Racism is completely unacceptable in all forms. NYRA rejects Eric Guillot’s toxic words and divisive behaviour in the strongest terms,” NYRA said in a statement. “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.”
Guillot, whose training career stretches to 1991 based on Equibase statistics, has since stated on social media that he is the “furthest from racist” and the name Grape Soda was a tribute to his favorite beverage as a child. The Louisiana native told Thoroughbred Daily News on Saturday he has retired from training.