Derby 2018: What it takes to name a horse

Amberlee Tate

Atswhatimtalknbout, Imawildandcrazyguy and Nosupeforyou may look like random combinations of letters, but these are just three of the many unique and interesting names that horses in the Kentucky Derby have had over the years.

Next month, Churchill Downs will host the 144th Kentucky Derby. The annual horse race has continually featured horses with interesting names, but what actually goes into the process of naming them, however, is not as creative and fun.

The owner of the horse must first submit the name request to The Jockey Club, a commercial horse racing organization. The organization has a lengthy rule book, The American Stud Book Principal Rules and Requirements, which lists all of the rules regarding registering, eligibility and naming horses.

To be eligible, horses cannot have a name exceeding 18 characters or be comprised solely of numbers.

Much of what causes the creativity is the fact that no two horses can have the same name. Derby horses cannot partake in the race if they have the same name as a current competitor, a horse that has previously been entered into the Kentucky Derby or one that is registered in the Jockey Club’s system.

As long as the owner follows the set rules of The Jockey Club, the club will approve the name.

Getting creative with horse names is not something that is specific to the horses in the Kentucky Derby; horse owners as a whole often end up giving their horses distinct names.

“Horses in any type of showing, like dressage, racing, eventing or show-jumping, have to have a registered show name. I’ve been riding since I was eight, and I have run into many horses with interesting names,” Zoe Higgins (12, HSU) said. “Most show horses have really long, weird names that their owners give to them.”

Some people even place their bets based solely on the names of the horses in the running.

“I don’t know much about actual horse racing but I do like to bet every few years whenever it crosses my mind. I always just choose a name that stands out to me or a funny name because when it comes down to it, it’s anyone’s race I just do it for fun,” Scott Williams said.

It seems that every year there are at least a few horses with names that are more creative than the others. Here are the top five horses in the 2018 Kentucky Derby that have interesting names and a few facts about them:

Overall, many horses, especially those entered in the Kentucky Derby, end up having creative names. Owners want to be able to have a horse that stands out, so they often name a horse something related to where it is from, a joke resonating with the time period or something that describes the horse.

Featured Image Citation: “Traditions of the Kentucky Derby” by on Flickr is licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). No changes were made.