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Horse Articles :: Best Horse Names
Best Horse Name
There are a lot of rules when it comes to naming a horse
for example no obscenities, you can’t repeat the name of a
Triple Crown or Breeders Cup Champion and if a horse is in
the hall of fame horse his name is off limits so that forces
horse owners to be creative.
I’ve scoured the Internet; I’ve called some of the oldest
horse handicappers I know looking for the best, the coolest,
the most suggestive and downright questionable names we could
come up with.
When I made my selections I asked myself does this name make
me smile. Does the name create a powerful image in my mind?
Can I say this name in front of my mother without feeling
awkward? Let’s have a look.
The Past 10 years
The Jockey Club has definitely tightened up what they consider
acceptable thoroughbred names so the past ten years are not
nearly as colorful as the 100 plus years before. Here are
a few of the best horse names of the past 10 years.
Funny Cide – The 2003 Derby winners name is a play on
his fathers name Distorted Humor and his mothers Belle’s Good
Cide. But to me the name Funny Cide sounds like a Superman
villain some sort of Bizarro World version of Jack Kevorkian.
Big Brown – Named after UPS, Big Brown delivered the
perfect product placement. UPS contractor Paul Pompa Jr. named
his horse after his biggest customer. Now if only Kit Kat
candy bars and Bombay Sapphire Gin would name a horse after
Stevie Wonderboy – Owner Merv Griffin said of his horse,
“My horse isn’t blind he just wears big sunglasses.
Just Really Cool Names
Tabasco Cat – The 1994 Belmont stakes winner was as
fiery as his name suggestions. Tabasco Cat put the son of
trainer D. Wayne Lukas in a coma for several weeks after breaking
lose during a training session.
Nutzapper – Nutzapper was the name given to Andy Hillis’
gelding horse until the Jockey Club figured out the name had
nothing to do with cooking chestnuts in oil. The horse is
currently named Awaiting Justice.
Ghostzapper – Ok maybe I like the name zapper for a horse
but Ghostzapper not only had a cool name; he has the heart
of a lion. After winning the 2004 breeders cup he could have
retired to stud, earning a cool $200,000 per go round (My
fees are significantly less) he came back for one more race
easily winning the 2005 Metropolitan Handicap.
Ready for Battle
Everyday in the sporting world we use the analogies of war
and horseracing is no different, here are some horses I would
have gladly rode into battle.
Man o'War – Man o’War won every race but one. Who was
the only horse to beat the legend? The horse that beat him
was named “Upset” and thus popularized the term for an underdog
War Admiral – Sired by Man o’War, War Admiral was the
winner in 21 of his 26 starts with 3 places and a show, the
only race the Admiral lost was his 1938 match race against
Seabiscuit but on the bright side we all got a fantastic movie
because of it.
Battleship – There was no sinking this horse, Battleship
was the only horse to with both the American Grand National
and the prestigious British Grand National.
The Kid Stays in the Picture
The entertainment industry and the horseracing industry often
go hand in hand. Several horses take their name from their
celebrity owners or big movie productions and Hollywood, always
looking for a good story, will produce a blockbuster featuring
one of these famous thoroughbreds. Please note Bobcat Goldthwait
vehicle Hot to Trot doesn’t fall into either the blockbuster
or the famous thoroughbred category.
Seabiscuit - The aforementioned Seabiscuit was a rags
to riches story, although slightly exaggerated in Hollywood’s
portrayal but he did give the American public hope during
the depression of the 1930s. In fact Seabiscuit and his “Match
of the Century” victory over Man o War was the most popular
story of 1938 receiving more columns of print than any person
or thing that year. President Franklin D Roosevelt was second
and Adolf Hitler was third.
Pharlap – The Australian Wonder Horse was the subject
of a fascinating movie 1983 movie bearing his name. The horse
was too good; winning 37 of 51 races entered but being so
good Phar Lap made some enemies. Just three days before the
1930 Melbourne cup, gangsters tried to assassinate the horse.
Phar Lap survived this attempt on his life, won the Cup with
the shortest odds (8/11) ever.
Afternoon Deelites – We all know what afternoon deelites
are and being owned by ultra-smooth composer Burt Bacharach,
makes this horse so much cooler.
That’s a Silly Name for a Horse
The Belmont Stakes has a history of crushing the dreams of
Triple Crown hopefuls with 20 horses, including last years
Big Brown, winning both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness
stakes before succumbing to the Belmont. During the early
years, the Belmont also had a strange run of winners with
odd names, well odd for thoroughbred horses.
1875 - Calvin
1889 - Eric
1905 - Tanya
1908 - Colin
1928 – Vito
The Preakness Stake had a couple champions named after my
aunt and uncle.
1876 - Shirley
1879 - Harold
I hope this dark period in racings history never repeats itself.
I’m Feeling Tipsy
The great thing about the Kentucky Derby is all the traditions
that come along with the first Saturday of May. The well dressed
gentlemen, the women wearing hats they’d never wear outside
of Churchill downs and of course my favorite the Mint Julep.
Google the recipe, it’s a fantastic combination of Kentucky
Bourbon, Spearmint, Powdered Sugar and water. Many recipes
won’t tell you but I will let you in on a little secret. The
key to bringing out the unique tastes of a Mint Julep is to
drink it from a metal cup.
Let’s have a look at a couple alcohol inspired names
Go For Gin - Mastered a sloppy track in 1994 to win
the 120th Kentucky Derby an give trainer Nick Zito his second
Derby winner in 4 years.
Not Bourbon – This Canadian winner of the 2008 Queen Plate
could be in the running for next year’s Kentucky Derby but
his name guarantees he’ll be treated like an outsider in the
land of Makers Mark.
How Times Have Changed. Where was Al Sharpton, when we needed
We all know America hasn’t always been so cool to black people
but looking back it’s pretty amazing how far the US has come.
Here are some actual horses registered through the Jockey
Club and the year each was registered. Multiple years means
multiple horses were registered under the same name. You can
kind of make a case for the horses named before the height
of the civil rights movement but for the 3 horses registered
after 1975 you just have to shake your head.
Tar Baby (1944, 1975, and 1985)
Uncle Remus (1944 and 1965)
Uncle Tom (1950),
Jungle Bunny (1953)
Blackface Minstrel (1980)
The most egregious example of this lax registration finished
3rd place in the 1911 Preakness Stakes. Well let’s just say
the name rhymes with bigger and is used frequently by Chris
Rock and Dr. Dre.
Can they say that on Television?
Late Great Comedian Bill Hicks was ahead of his time, his
comedy was often over the heads of his audience, which would
result some grumbling and some heckles from an impatient audience.
His answer was simple “Hold on, Hold on the Dick jokes are
coming.” So I’ll close with this slide dedicated to the dick
jokes of the horseracing world. Here are some of the most
risqué, sexually suggestive and down right dirty horse names
from the past 150 years.
Lagnaf – (1978) An acronym for Let’s all get naked…I’ll let
you figure out the rest
Wrecked Em (1983)
Golden Shower (1955)
Bodacious Tatas (1985)
Blow Me (1945)
Cum Rocket (1969)
Date More Minors (1998)
And finally I’ll close with two of the best.
In 1969 there was a horse that raced at Aqueduct called Cunning
Stunt, say that 5 times fast.
And of course the Youtube sensation Hoof Hearted.
About the Author
Rory Gold is a sports writer, living in Costa Rica.