LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Tom VanMeter, a well-known Thoroughbred owner and breeder in the horse industry, will not be allowed on the Keeneland premises for now after a comment he made on social media.
"Effective immediately, Tom VanMeter will be excluded from the Keeneland premises, including participation by VanMeter and VanMeter-Gentry Sales in sales and racing activities, while Keeneland further reviews the circumstances related to the recent reprehensible comments VanMeter made on social media," Keeneland wrote in a statement. "Keeneland takes its role in advancing inclusion and diversity seriously. But we know that we as a company, an industry and a society have much work to do. Only through listening and concrete action can we hope to live up to our values of respect, community and equality."
Earlier this week, VanMeter was criticized by racing news outlets after commenting on a Facebook post about boycotting the NFL on Monday. He called for the league to be defunded and used an abbreviation of the n-word by referring to the NFL as the "n-word football league." Several members of the thoroughbred industry condemned his comment.
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. The NTRA no longer will accept financial contributions of any kind from him or others who share his views.— Alex Waldrop (@AlexWaldrop) July 7, 2020
.@OwnerView, jointly owned by @jockeyclub & @TOBAhorses, has suspended the account privileges of Tom VanMeter pending further review, based upon offensive content posted on social media under the same name. There is no place in racing or our society for racially hateful language.— The Jockey Club (@jockeyclub) July 6, 2020
"Over the weekend, comments I made on a private page of a social media platform surfaced which have since come under scrutiny due to their racist nature," VanMeter wrote in a statement sent to Thoroughbred Daily News. "I will not attempt to deny that I wrote the comments, nor will I attempt to justify my actions. Certainly, I am frustrated with the current social situation in our country, however, what I wrote was unjustifiable. I was wrong and am disgusted by my actions. Contrary to what these comments might suggest, in no way do those responses represent my true feelings towards my friends and community members of color. Moving forward I am committed to listening and learning as to how I can be a better ally and advocate in my community and within the racing industry as to how we can better foster inclusivity for all. In the meantime, as a gesture of goodwill, I have made a donation to the NAACP in support of the important work this organization continues to do. I am hopeful all the industry stakeholders and the community at large can forgive me. I can and will do better."
According to the Courier-Journal, VanMeter owns Stockplace Farm in Lexington, the birthplace of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.