Saturday, June 21, 2008

Horse names that rock

One complaint that people who name race horses have is that all the good names are taken.

To some degree, this is true. Names of famous horses are officially retired by The Jockey Club, so there will never be another Man O’War or Secretariat. Horse names also cannot be reused until 15 years after the previous horse’s death. There are other rules—no “vulgar, obscene or suggestive” names, and no names of “commercial significance” (although Big Brown apparently slid by).

With an increasing number of common names being taken, one recent gimmick is to string a phrase together as one word (to fit the 18-letter space limit), such as Atswhatimtalkinbout. Occasionally, this works (e.g., current harness phenom Somebeachsomewhere), but it usually results in cumbersome, unmemorable names.

U.S. Trotting Association writer Dean Hoffman has suggested naming horses after classic literature, such as Absalom Absalom, Catcher In The Rye, A Farewell To Arms—you get the idea. This is imaginative, although I would stop short of naming a horse The Idiot.

This got me thinking—why not name horses after classic rock albums?

I’m not the first one to have this idea. There were horses at Beulah Park when I was young named Physical Graffiti and Stardust Ziggy (not sure why they flip-flopped the words). Plus, there was a champion Quarter Horse a few years back named Sgt. Pepper Feature.

But there are many album titles that would not only be short enough, but would sound really cool coming from an announcer’s mouth. (And for all I know, some of these may be in use.) Consider:

Abbey Road
Sticky Fingers
Rocket to Russia
Let It Be
My Aim Is True
King of America
Electric Ladyland
Axis Bold As Love
London Calling
American Beauty
Nashville Skyline
Purple Rain
Wish You Were Here

I could go on. But there were two names that leaped out at me as being especially appropriate.

Who’s Next. That sounds like a champion. Just think of what the headline writers would do if this horse got on a win streak.

Then there’s the perfect rock horse name: Born to Run. That wouldn’t work for a harness horse, though, because “run” is a synonym for breaking stride.

This list makes me grateful for the limit on the number of letters. Otherwise some horse might have been stuck with When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You'll Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You Know That You're Right.


tvnewsbadge said...

Good article.
I agree. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that one reason Big Brown didn't win the Triple Crown is because he had the handle of a delivery truck rather than that of a champion.

But I don't think it's because all the good names have been taken, but because the folks running racing these days see the horses as nothing more than well stocked ATM machines, or buisness inventory like any other piece of rolling stock on their company books.


Anonymous said...

Horse racing is the sport of kings.

HoJo said...

I saw this posted on http://www.SubliminalMessages.Com and wanted to add my three cents (tip included).

I have always enjoyed and appreciated horses' names. I wonder if anyone has ever done as study as to the correlation of the "cleverness" of a name and its ability to generate bets. I, for one, base my betting solely on this.

This goes for yachts too. It never ceases to amaze me just how clever people can be when it comes to creating names for their fiberglass fantasies.

I'm a first time visitor to the The Fritz Blitz and think that its name, too, is very clever. Gotta appreciate catchy stuff like that, man. Life is too short not to.

Anyways, great article and great blog, Bob. Keep up the good work and...go Bucks!

Doug Whaley