Even those who’ve never watched a horse race have likely heard some of the unique names that owners pick for their horses. Considering the many restrictions The Jockey Club imposes on horse names, the creativity shown by some is truly admirable. Before submitting a horse name, an owner must ensure it his/her thoroughbred’s name meets the following guidelines.
- Nothing vulgar or obscene
- No copyrighted names
- No names of notorious people who have passed away
- No names of real people without their written permission
- Cannot be more than 18 letters
- Cannot contain initials
Despite these rules, some owners have managed to give their horses hilarious and memorable names. Case in point:
- Fiftyshadesofhay, winner of the 2013 Black-Eyes Susan Stakes. The name is an obvious play on words for the steamy romance novel Fifty Shades of Grey. The book, published in 2011, was at the height of popularity and controversy at the time of the race.
- Nosupeforyou is a creatively spelled take-off on the “Seinfeld” Soup Nazi episode where Elaine gets cut off from buying her favorite soup from an overly zealous counter worker. It’s not the first time the 90’s comedy inspired the name of a horse. There’s also Elaine Can’t Dance, named after another popular episode.
- Clyde Van Dusen, winner of the 1929 Kentucky Derby, was named for the jockey who rode him. Talk about confusing!
- Riding Miss Daisy, who competed in the 2004 Kentucky Derby, has a name closely associated with the movie Driving Miss Daisy. While the jockey intended to honor actor Morgan Freeman and the movie itself, it unfortunately prompted producers to later give the same name to X-rated movies.
- Whiskery, the 1927 Preakness winner, was named for a common facial feature on horses. That would be its whiskers.
- Slumpbuster, a 2006 Kentucky Derby competitor, may have been a hopeful name for an owner who hadn’t won many races recently. The female horse may have also been given a random name by an owner on a deadline. She isn’t saying.
- Real Quiet, the 1998 Kentucky Derby winner, inspires thoughts of a majestic horse running its way to victory by swooshing past all the other horses who never even saw it coming.
- Brangelina, a 2005 Kentucky Derby favorite, has a name that has lived on longer than the Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
- Where’s the Beef, who ran in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, was named for a famous Wendy’s commercial from 24 years earlier. Commercial actress Clara Peller lifts the hamburger bun, takes out her magnifying glass, and asks indignantly, “Where’s the Beef?” The commercial catch-phrase, now more than 30 years old, has been recycled as a horse name three other times. That is because the claim to a name expires after 10 years.
- Sometimes an owner doesn’t realize how clever his choice of name is until the right race day pairing occurs. Consider this moment from Monmouth Park racing history on August 22, 2010. Cue a memorable finish between My Wife Knows Everything and The Wife Doesn’t Know.
These are just 10 memorable names in horse racing history. No doubt there will be more in the future.