This falls in the category of “You gotta be kidding me.”
It appears that the owner in this news story does not like TVG announcer Ken Rudolph.
I don’t have a problem with that, even though I personally don’t mind Ken at all. For someone who came into the announcer job as a beginner, he has shown a lot of interest in the sport and is relatively interesting.
And since most of the TVG announcers bug me to some extent, each in their own way, Ken is in decent company. But this blog post is not really here to defend Ken as an announcer. Since I don’t watch much TVG, I may have missed a lot of commentary that would have earned him some detractors as a commentator.
So I would ordinarily defend this owner’s right to name his horse “Mute Rudolph” if he simply didn’t like Ken’s announcing.
That said, the use of Ken’s last name in the horse’s name may be a violation of the naming conventions which you can find here: Naming rules. Specifically, see section 6.F.11.
The problem is that in addition to giving the horse a name which seems an intentional jab at Ken Rudolph, the owner also swapped out his usual silks for silks displaying a confederate symbol (white stars on blue cross sashes). And he failed to get permission from the clerk before doing it, and he paid the silks custodian (who is now suspended) privately to make the last minute change. And Ken Rudolph is African-American.
This controversy is not as large as a Sarah Palin death panel Facebook post, but it has generated some conversation. The conversation revolves around whether or not this was a racially motivated act or not.
I don’t know the owner or his character, so I can’t say for sure what was in his head or his heart. But I will say that if you were trying to publicly paint yourself as a racist jackass, I can’t come up with any better way to do it than what he did. At a minimum, he should have been aware of how his actions were being perceived.
The penalty assessed to the owner was a $1500 fine and a suspension of his license for the remainder of the meet, which looks to work out to about a five month suspension. If the act was truly racially motivated, the fine is nowhere near severe enough and the owner probably figures it was worth it.
However, in these situations, the authorities find themselves under a lot of pressure to give the owner the benefit of the doubt. Doing so, takes the owner out of racist and drops him squarely into stupid. And this seems a fair penalty for stupid.
Especially since most stupidity goes unpunished.
Horse racing needs good news stories, like Zenyatta winning Horse Of The Year, not this crap. Aren’t there enough problems in the horse racing business today that we don’t need additional helpings of stupidity, let alone racism? Seriously.