By DENNIS YOUNG
Horse trainer Eric Guillot gave one of his horses a racist name to antagonize a Black announcer. The horse won its debut at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens under the name Grape Soda, kicking off a firestorm that appears to have ended Guillot’s career. It was sold after the race for $25,000 and renamed to Respect for All.
The New York Racing Association announced Saturday that Guillot was banned from its tracks and races. Several horse racing conglomerates and a TV broadcaster also said they were banning Guillot, according to the Paulick Report.
“This colt will run next week and has unique name in honor of a TVG analyst,” Guillot tweeted on Jan. 1 with a Black fist emoji. “GRAPE SODA,” he responded when asked.
This colt will run next week and has unique name in honor of a TVG analyst ✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/h1ysZ8mITX
— Eric Guillot (@EricGuillot14) January 1, 2021
— Eric Guillot (@EricGuillot14) January 2, 2021
The analyst, Ken Rudulph, said that the incident was emblematic of bone-deep racism in horse racing.
“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,” Rudulph tweeted on Friday afternoon. (Guillot’s timeline is full of racist and outlandish posts.) “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 Guillot’s punishment was announced Saturday, Rudulph said that he was simply the tip of the iceberg. “I am not a victim so you can miss me with that performative sympathy bulls–t that you all are sending me,” he wrote. “What happened Saturday in New York is not about a horse with a name. It’s about a culture that has been cultivated and covered up in this industry since day number one.”
Guiloot pumped out a series of classic racist excuses in an interview with the Paulick Report. “I did nothing wrong but be a common comedian, and my skin’s a little too light to be joking about grape sodas, that’s all,” he said. “If Chris Rock or David Chappelle had said it, it would be OK.”
Guillot tried to claim that he was “just teasing” and “it wasn’t meant in a harmful way” before making clear that he absolutely wanted to harm Rudulph. “He plays the 180-degree Black Lives Matter racist card and is as condescending as you get,” he said. “It has nothing to do with me being racist. This is what he wanted; I just fueled the fire is what I did.”
Lawrence Roman, who bought the horse Friday, told the New York Times that he changed the name because The Jockey Club asked him to.
Guillot was an accomplished trainer; his horses won over $13 million in his career, according to the Times.