Wednesday, August 04, 2010

CHRB investigating case involving Confederate colors aboard Mute Rudulph

by Larry Stewart

A California caper that could involve racism and, at the very least, involves the misreporting of the carrying of silks in a race spurred an investigation that could lead to license revocations or suspensions following a stewards hearing on the issue August 7.

The controversy involves jockey silks in the colors of the Confederate flag and a two-year-old colt named Mute Rudulph—an admitted play on the name of Television Games on-air personality Ken Rudulph, an African-American.

The horse, owned by Bill Wilbur, Chris Carpenter, and trainer Bill McLean and ridden by jockey Michael Martinez, won his career debut, a $12,5000 maiden claimer on July 15 at the Cal Expo state fair meet in Sacramento. Wilbur had acquired the colt for $4,700 at the 2009 Northern California August yearling sale.

Wilbur’s registered silks are purple with a white “B” on a black and white background, but Mute Rudulph won carrying the silks of Wilbur’s friend, Jim Robinson, who loaned his silks to the colt’s connections because Wilbur had ordered new silks that were not available in time for the race. Robinson’s silks are red with a blue cross that include white stars.

TVG executive producer Tony Allevato complained about the silks to California Horse Racing Board Chairman Keith Brackpool, who assigned senior investigator Carol Nolan to the case.

In his complaint, Allevato alleged that silks custodian Tony Baze “received financial consideration and conspired to aid and abet” with Wilbur to substitute the “Southern Cross” for the horse’s designated colors. The technical issue is that none of the connections reported the change to Clerk of the Course Tina Walker.

Allevato said he and Rudulph could not comment until the stewards hearing.

Wilbur, a longtime Northern California horse owner, also is not talking but his attorney, Pat McCarthy, did comment.

“There was never any intention to connect the silks with the horse or the namesake of the horse,” McCarthy said. “It was a combination of events that are now getting blown way out of proportion.

“Bill is a big supporter of the Sacramento Kings

[of the National Basketball Association], and his colors were always the same as the team colors—black, white, and purple. After he and his wife Karen separated, Bill wanted to get new colors.

“He liked the silks used by his friend Jim Robinson and got permission to get something similar.”

McCarthy said that he told Wilbur that Robinson’s silks look like the Confederate flag.

“He wasn’t even aware of the Confederate flag,” said McCarthy, who did acknowledge that the name of the horse comes from the fact that Wilbur does not like Rudulph’s on-air style and that he “always mutes Rudulph” when he comes on the air.

“His race has nothing to do with it,” McCarthy added.

Wilbur ordered new silks in late June from Stephanie Searle, who owns Classic Silks based at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California, and has been in the silks design business for 24 years.

“I told Bill I could do them very similar (to Robinson’s ) but not alike,” Searle said. “We agreed on red, white stars on blue cross sashes front and back with a white B and a W on the back and a red cap. The B and the W is what is different. There was no mention ever made by Bill about a Confederate flag.”

The Classic Silks website promises to make the jockey proud, the owner happy, and racing look its best.

“I would never have gotten involved if I thought this was anything that could be construed as detrimental to racing,” Searle said.

Searle said that after making a deal with Wilbur she never heard back as to when he needed the new silks. McCarthy said Wilbur lost her cell phone number. The new silks had not arrived by July 15, so Wilbur borrowed Robinson’s silks.

The rub is Baze forgot to notify the Clerk of the Course of the change from black, white, and purple silks to red with white stars on blue cross sashes. As for the charge of financial consideration for Baze, McCarthy said Wilbur gave him a routine $20 tip.

In addition to silks considerations, the colt’s name could also end up being of some concern to The Jockey Club, which has strict rules regarding names of Thoroughbreds.

Specifically, The Jockey Club prohibits
• Names of living persons unless written permission to use their name is on file with The Jockey Club;
• Names that are suggestive or have a vulgar or obscene meaning; names considered in poor taste; or names that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups;
• Names that appear to be designed to harass, humiliate or disparage a specific individual, group of individuals or entity

© Copyright 2010, Thoroughbred Times

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