The VIPP Report: African American Bloodstock Agent Seeks Winner’s Circle at Kentucky Derby

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LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, Aug. 24, 2020 – The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby will be like none other.  There will be no fans in the stands at Churchill Downs, and for the first time in 13 years, African Americans will have ownership in a derby qualifying racehorse.

Ray Daniels, a Lexington businessman and Greg Harbut, a Lexington Bloodstock Agent are two of three owners of the Kentucky thoroughbred, Necker Island.  The two are among a tiny group of Black men to ever own a Derby qualifying racehorse.  “My family and I are excited and truly blessed to be part of such a momentous event,” Daniels said. 

Especially noteworthy of this historic accomplishment is Harbut’s lineage.  He is the grandson of Tom Harbut, a groom and subsequently the general manager for Harry F. Guggenheim’s breeding stallion operations in the 1960s.  Tom Harbut owned a racehorse, Touch Bar that ran in the 1962 Kentucky Derby.  He did not attend to watch his horse because Black’s were not allowed to sit in the grandstands.  Greg is the great-grandson of Will Harbut, the legendary groom for Man o’ War from 1930-1946.  Many industry experts consider Man o’ War to be the greatest racehorse of all time.  “My family has been on this journey for nearly 100 years.  Horseracing is in our blood and I am humbled and honored to continue the legacy of my grandfather and great-grandfather,” Harbut said.     

Many organizations are calling for a boycott of the Derby as a pathway to justice for the unarmed killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of the Louisville Police Department.  “There is a powerful social movement sweeping the country that cannot be ignored,” said Daniels.  “Black lives matter, and I wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with the family of Breonna Taylor in the call for justice.” 

Necker Island is a colt by Hard Spun who finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby and amassed nearly $3 million in career earnings.  Necker Island will be ridden by Miguel Mena on Sept. 5th.

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The VIPP Report: Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis dies at the age of 80

Official Congressional Photo

Rep. John Lewis

By Sherlene Shanklin

Late Friday evening, word spread quickly about the passing of Civil Rights icon and Congressman John Lewis.

The “conscious” of the U.S. Congress died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 80.

The Freedom Rider attended Fisk University and when he was not in class he was leading demonstrations and sit-ins.

Within the last two hours the following statements were released.

Former President Barack Obama says “When I was elected President of the United States, I hugged him on the inauguration stand before I was sworn in and told him I was only there because of the sacrifices he made. And through all those years, he never stopped providing wisdom and encouragement to me and Michelle and our family. We will miss him dearly.”

The Congressional Black Caucus says “The world has lost a legend; the civil rights movement has lost an icon, the City of Atlanta has lost one of its most fearless leaders, and the Congressional Black Caucus has lost our longest serving member. The Congressional Black Caucus is known as the Conscience of the Congress. John Lewis was known as the conscience of our caucus. A fighter for justice until the end, Mr. Lewis recently visited Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington DC. His mere presence encouraged a new generation of activist to “speak up and speak out” and get into “good trouble” to continue bending the arc toward justice and freedom.”

Bill and Hillary Clinton say “We have lost a giant.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says “Today, America mourns the loss of one of the greatest heroes of American history: Congressman John Lewis, the Conscience of the Congress.

The Lewis family tried to hold the news of his passing because Dr. Martin Luther King’s lieutenant C.T. Vivian also of Atlanta, Georgia passed away earlier in the day.  Out of respect for the Vivian family they were trying to wait.

To learn more on Rep. John Lewis’ life and countless accomplishments go to https://johnlewis.house.gov/.

►Contact Sherlene Shanklin at sherleneshanklin@gmail.com or follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.