Barclay Tagg

Barclay Tagg, trainer of Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz The Law.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The issue of race, already front and center at a Kentucky Derby that will see protests from multiple national groups calling for justice in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Metro Police officers, entered from inside the gates of Churchill Downs on Tuesday.

Speaking with reporters after the Derby post-position draw, Barclay Tagg, the 82-year-old trainer of 3-5 favorite Tiz The Law, was asked if he had concerns over protesters who have promised to be outside the gates attempting to disrupt the race.

“I don’t know what these guys are going to do, these rioters," Tagg said. "Who knows? All I know is you’re not allowed to shoot them, and they’re allowed to shoot you. That’s what it looks like to me, so I don’t know what to think about it.”

Tagg arrived in Louisville late Monday and said he wasn’t aware of events that had transpired in the city over the past several months, with nearly 100 consecutive days of protests or demonstrations. While there have been some nights of violence, most demonstrations in Louisville have ended without arrests or injuries.

“I don’t know what’s going on in the city and I don’t know what’s going on with all these riots and whatnot, but stuff doesn’t look good” Tagg said when asked by WDRB’s Rick Bozich if he was worried about the security of his horse. “It’s not like you can grab your horse and run off with it, or something like that.”

Rev. Timothy Findley, Jr., who's organizing a protest outside Saturday’s race, says he’s expecting a “massive” crowd that will be fired up in response to Tagg's comments.

“We’re coming together peacefully, but we are not coming quietly," Findley said. "We hear those statements and we see and hear a clear and present threat.”

Neal Robertson, a frequent protester and local civil rights activist, blames Tagg’s comments on ignorance.

“He’s never in his life been Black. I guarantee, probably don’t even have one Black friend, but I’m not even mad at him for that. I just want him to understand the reason why we’re out here. We want the same privilege that he has," Robertson said.

Robertson said protesters shouldn’t respond with anger at Tagg. Instead, he said they should focus their efforts on the bigger battles in the fight for equality.

Findley, meanwhile, says he anticipates a peaceful but loud protest outside Churchill Downs on Saturday. With the armed Black militia group known as NFAC coming to town again, Findley says he's communicated the same expectation to its leader.

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