Wimbledon to allocate prize money despite cancellation

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WIMBLEDON, England — Wimbledon will pay out $12.5 million in prize money to 620 players despite the tournament’s cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic, the All England Club said Friday.

After consulting with its insurance provider, club officials said 256 players who would have competed in the main draw will each receive 25,000 pounds ($31,000), while 224 players who would have competed in qualifying will each receive 12,500 pounds ($15,600).

“Immediately following the cancellation of The Championships, we turned our attention to how we could assist those who help make Wimbledon happen,” All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis said.

In addition, 120 players who would have competed in doubles will each receive 6,250 pounds ($7,800); 16 players who would have competed in the wheelchair events will each receive 6,000 pounds ($7,500); and four players who would have competed in the quad wheelchair events will each receive 5,000 pounds ($6,200).

“We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for these groups, including the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon based on their world ranking,” Lewis said.

The pandemic forced officials to cancel the tournament for the first time since 1945.

“We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognize the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into The Championships 2020,” Lewis said.

The club also announced that the grass court seeding formula used since 2002 “has served its time.”

Beginning in 2021, seeding for the men’s singles draw will be based solely on ranking, the club said, but there will be no change to the method of seeding for the women.

Racehorse named for Dr. Anthony Fauci gets first win at Keeneland

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — A horse named for Dr. Anthony Fauci won his first race at Keeneland on Thursday.

The 2-year-old colt won by 1 length as the heavy favorite against 11 rivals in the $70,000 race. Fauci ran 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in 58.65 seconds under jockey Tyler Gaffalione and paid $4.20 to win.

Fauci finished second in his career debut at New York’s Belmont Park on June 3 for trainer Wesley Ward. The colt is named for the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is advising the White House on the coronavirus pandemic.

The victory, worth $42,000, increased Fauci’s career earnings to $54,800.

Fauci was purchased for $175,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Keeneland bans Tom VanMeter after racist posts

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — A prominent Kentucky horse owner and breeder has been banned from racing and sales at Keeneland Race Course after his racist post on social media.

Keeneland said Wednesday it was banning Tom VanMeter from the premises, including participation by his sales company, while the Lexington track further reviews circumstances related to the recent “reprehensible comments” he made online.

In Facebook post last weekend on Kentucky ThorKeeneland bans prominent owner, breeder after racist postoughbred Farm Managers’ Club president Donnie Snellings’ page that called on followers to “Re-post if you are still boycotting the NFL.” VanMeter, who is white, responded with a post that used an abbreviation of the N-word. He later posted, “Put em back in their cage!!!”

“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 to the 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,” he wrote.

Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, said in a tweet that his organization will no longer accept financial contributions from VanMeter.

VanMeter has bought, sold and consigned bloodstock for many years in the industry. He foaled and raised 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah for Zayat Stables. Last year, VanMeter-Gentry Sales generated over $5.6 million in receipts from horses sold at public auction.