Keeneland may ban VanMeter from sales after racist social media posts

Keeneland may ban VanMeter from sales after racist social media posts
Photo: Keeneland photo
Following racist remarks posted on Facebook by longtime horseman Tom VanMeter, Keeneland’s vice president of racing and sales, Bob Elliston did not rule out barring VanMeter from bringing his horses to sell at the track.

“Everything is on the table, I think that’s exactly where we find ourselves,” Elliston said in an NTRA conference call with media on Tuesday. “We are looking at all the avenues that are in front of us to appropriately respond to that behavior on Tom’s part.” Elliston also reiterated Keeneland’s previous statement about VanMeter’s comments

“We obviously condemned that,” Elliston said. “There’s absolutely no place for that kind of racism comment in our sport and in our society for that matter.”

VanMeter made racist comments on the Facebook post questioning whether the National Football League should be boycotted. In the post, he called the league the “n-- football league,” and said to “Put em[sic] back in their cage.”

Van Meter issued an apology after intense backlash from the racing community, including a statement on Twitter from the president of the NTRA, Alex Waldrop.

“The racist remarks and views posted on social media on an account belonging to Tom VanMeter have no place in society, let alone the horse racing industry,” Waldrop said. “The NTRA no longer will accept financial contributions of any kind from him or others who share his views.”

The Jockey Club announced that VanMeter’s OwnerView account privileges have been suspended.

VanMeter’s apology, a statement to the Thoroughbred Daily News, acknowledged he was the one who made the post and said that he had made a donation to the NAACP as “a gesture of goodwill.” He did not apologize to the National Football League or any of its players in the statement.

“Certainly, I am frustrated with the current social situation in our country,” VanMeter said. “However, what I wrote was unjustifiable. I was wrong and am disgusted by my actions.”

VanMeter did not clarify what about America’s social situation was frustrating to him. Ellison appreciated that VanMeter apologized, but said it might not be enough.

“That’s a first good step,” Ellison said. “But it doesn’t erase what was said and we are evaluating all of those consequences right now.”

VanMeter’s son Griffin posted on Facebook that his father has harbored racist views for over 20 years, and expressed happiness that he was being held accountable for his actions.

“I hope my Dad can unlearn the racism that was taught to him and that he later taught to me,” Griffin VanMeter said. “I hope that he can learn love, acceptance, and promotion of all people.”

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