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Louisville, KY 1-15-21 – The divisiveness in our country is palpable. It is hard to turn on the news and not see something about social injustice and discord in America.  The sports world is no exception. Last week, the horse racing industry was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Trainer Eric Guillot ran a first-time starter at Aqueduct named Grape Soda. Before the horse ran, he posted a picture of the colt, stating that HE  had chosen the name for his owners, and referenced a TVG analyst as the inspiration for that choice. 

Well, I have to plead ignorance here. I did not know that the term “grape soda” was a racial slur. But Ken Rudulph, the only African American TVG analyst…and the horse’s namesake…certainly knew. 
Grape Soda won his debut and paid $11. Rudulph’s comment was something like “you guys go ahead and take that $11. I will pass.” Grape Soda was also claimed out of that race, and that put the new trainer and owner in a precarious spot. 
Apparently, the New York Racing Association and the Jockey Club were immediately alerted to the situation and both took unprecedented action. Guillot was banned from racing in New York; and, the Jockey Club did something I have never seen done in horse racing. They rescinded the approval for the name. 
The rules for naming a horse are set in stone. Changing a horse’s name after it runs just does not happen. But it did last week. The new owner chose the name Respect for All and that name has been approved. 
Eric Guillot has retired from training horses. Many people involved in the industry spoke up and condemned his actions. Twitter was ablaze with comments and TVG analyst Ken Rudulph received many supportive comments. End of story? Not quite. 
Rudulph’s response to many of the fans and supporters was surprisingly hostile. It seems he felt they were painting him as a “victim” and he took offense. What ensued was not pretty as the back and forth between Rudulph and his Twitter followers devolved into ugly remarks and name calling. 
I wrote this story because I have always believed that two wrongs do not make a right. Eric Guillot was wrong. Dead wrong. But, in my humble opinion, Ken Rudulph’s handling of the situation did nothing positive for him or the sport. 
I put Respect for All in my virtual stable this week, not because I think he’s going to do big things on the track, but because I will sentimentally cheer for him, his trainer, and his owner throughout his racing career.  

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