KY Oaks Name Game: Who's Your Pick?

Like last year, I decided to do a post on some of the Kentucky Oaks contenders and their name meanings, so you can get to know these fillies a little bit better. After reading these meanings, just for fun, tell me which filly out of this group you would bet on solely based on the name factor. Then tell me who you’re really rooting for. :)

I will be adding more name meanings to the list as I find them. It’s a more difficult and drawn-out process than you think!

I mentioned in last year’s post that I’m not the greatest handicapper, because I often let a horse’s name sway me on whether or not I will place a bet on him or her. Am I alone here, or does anyone else fall victim to this method? While I have been lucky some of the time, more often than not, the name game doesn’t work in my favor.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to see where some of these horses’ names originated, so here we go:

Lilacs and Lace (winner of the Ashland Stakes, gr. I):

“I sent Judy three or four names,” said co-owner Kathryn Nikkel of other co-owner Judy Hicks. “(Lilacs and Lace’s) sire, Flower Alley, is named after a street in Barbados…so using the flower (from his name), and her dam Refinement, Judy said she liked the ring of Lilacs and Lace. It was from both of our grandmothers’ influence I guess. Now it’s a household name.”

Kathmanblu (winner of the Rachel Alexandra Stakes, gr. II; most recently third in the Ashland):

“Since she’s by Bluegrass Cat, I was trying to find the name of a city or a song with the word cat, and there is a song called Kathmandu (the capitol of Nepal), and I found that and thought it sounded like a great name,” said co-owner Dr. William Dobozi.

“There’s actually already a horse by that name, however, and there’s also a horse named Katmanblu that’s currently running. So I tried to make (the spelling) a little different so (The Jockey Club) would accept it. We made a T-shirt with her name that says, ‘The H is silent.’ ”

Plum Pretty (25-length winner of the Sunland Park Oaks): 

“I’m a Southerner and it’s a Southern expression,” said South Carolina resident John Fort, who races Plum Pretty in the name of his Peachtree Stables. “If a girl was really sharp-looking, we’d say, ‘Oh, man, she’s just plum pretty, isn’t she?’ I had (the name) tucked away in my mind, and every few years I would check and see if it was available, and it finally became available.”

St. John’s River (second in the Fair Grounds Oaks, gr. II):

“I grew up in Jacksonville, Fla. on the St. John’s River where I used to fish and ski,” said Dede McGehee, who bred the filly in the name of her Heaven Trees Farm. McGehee is best known as breeding dual grade I winner Pany Raid and foaling and raising Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra at Heaven Trees. “I like to name (fillies) where if they have foals, then I have a whole slew of names,” McGehee explained. “There are all those places we went as kids on the river, and I have a whole batch of names now, so when she becomes a broodmare, I’ll be able to name her foals.”

Zazu (winner of the Las Virgenes, gr. I; most recently second in the Santa Anita Oaks, gr. I):

She is named for the 1986 Rosie Vela album released by A&M Records. Zazu produced the mild UK hit "Magic Smile." As noted previously by Ian Tapp of TrueNicks, Zazu is not named for the highbrow hornbill character from The Lion King.

R Heat Lightning (winner of the Davona Dale and Gulfstream Park Oaks, both gr. II):

I’m just speculating on this one, but I would have to guess the name comes from a combination of the first letter of her owner’s last name (E. Paul Robsham Stables), and the name of her dam, Yellow Heat.

Delightful Mary (winner of the OBS Championship Stakes at Ocala Training Ceter; most recently seventh in the Ashland):

"Delightful Mary had her name when we bought her, but interestingly, when we bought her (for $500,000 at the 2010 OBS 2-year-old in training sale), I asked (her owner) John Oxley if she would continue to have that name, and he said his mom’s name was Mary, and she was quite delightful," said trainer Mark Casse, adding that Delightful Mary may run in the May 6 Eight Belles Presented by ACS (gr. III) instead of the Oaks, depending on how she trains at Churchill. "She’s been a joy for all of us, so (her name) was kind of a little omen, right?"

Added John Oxley: "(At the sale) I liked the filly and everything she was presenting, but the name just added to her interest and that was some additional incentive to buy her."

Joyful Victory (winner of the Honeybee, gr. III and Fantasy, gr. II)

"I cannot remember exactly how we came up with her name," said owner Rick Porter, who races Joyful Victory in the name Fox Hill Farms. "I don’t know whether it was a recently released name…I think my assistant who helps me name a lot of my horses might have come up with it, but it doesn’t have any particular meaning that I can remember. It sounded like a good name—'joyful' is good, and 'victory' is good. But I can’t give you a story."


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