Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Weirdest Derby Horse Names?

Someone at the Huffington Post posted a silly article entitled "The 11 Weirdest Names to Win the Derby". Unfortunately, it must have been written by a child or a profoundly uneducated person, since there's utterly NOTHING weird about any of these names.

What's weird about Pleasant Colony? Or Swale (the word refers to swamplike low-lying wetlands)? Chateaugay is a city in New York. And Giacomo is the Italian equivalent of "James" and is one of the most common names in Italy. And Thunder Gulch? Pensive? Come on. It takes a small and sheltered mind indeed to find these names weird.

The writer also seems unaware that many racehorses are named by combining elements from each parent's names, thus the offspring of Alydar and Bel Sheba was dubbed Alysheba. If Huffpo thinks that's weird, they should check out purebred cat shows, whose entrants have names like GP Kaylee's Midnight Ryder of Kaybill and GP Skinzin Queen Nefertiti of True Zue.

If I had to pick the weirdest of the Derby Horse names, I'd probably select 1916's George Smith (pictured), mainly because it's so glaringly normal amidst a sea of abstract equine nomenclature.


Heather said...

Lol, the dog I adopted was named Thomas the Tank Engine - is this weird? Not really, just silly. I renamed him :)

Eight said...

My personal favorites amongst racehorses in general are the following:

Hoofhearted (Say it outloud and imagine a highly exciteable man calling the race.)
Panty Raid
Spank It
Hardawn (Again, say it allowed, please, if you must!)
Thong or Panties and, the interest of equality, Boxers or Briefs
and, for the dork in all of us: Maythehorsebewithu

my favorite, however, and I might be a bit biased, was the name Eight Asterisks, a horse from my childhood that was purchased off track and trained to be a riding horse. When a horse has no name, the symbols 8* are filled in--so some smart-ass decided on Eight Asterisks, the horse with no name.

I know a horse cannot be named for a living person without his or her written consent and the name must be less than 18 characters long.
There was a controversy a few years ago when an owner wanted to name his horse Sally Hemmings, after Thomas Jefferson's paramour and mother of his children, saying he meant no disrespect and it was meant to honor her--it went so far as litigation and the judge gave a resounding 'nay' or 'neigh,' as it were, to the would-be name.

Melissa said...

What fun in the article and commentary--thanks y'all!

For the nerdily-inclined (guilty!), I also like Skywalker. But for its sheer counter-intuitiveness, I think the 1990 winner, Unbridled, is another name for the weirdest files.

Emily(bluekygirl) said...

That is by far the most normal horse name I have ever heard. The weirdest one I have ever seen was at Keeneland a few years ago. Her name was Miss Sally Green Apples.

JSH said...

Emily, I think Melissa's point was that "Unbridled" is a contradictory name for a racehorse since, by definition, racehorses are bridled, not unbridled, see.

I guess weird's in the eye of the beholder. "Miss Sally Green Apples" is at least a cute pet-like name, which doesn't make me go "huh?", as opposed to purely abstract and random-word names like "Burgoo", "Hindoo", or "Zev".

I don't think any of the names are all that weird, really - horses have to be named something, and as time goes by, it's inevitable that they're going to get more kooky. Most of the early Derby horses had one-word names, then more and more of them were two words, and now we're seeing three-word ones appear with increasing frequency ("Spend a Buck" was the first one in 1985, followed by "Strike the Gold" in 1991, "Go for Gin" in 1994, and "Mine That Bird" in 2009.)

Eventually we'll see long insane names like the aforementioned show-cats have, that is if the racehorse industry doesn't collapse before then.