Thoroughbred Horse Names

For a moment, let's put aside the somber, serious issues of horse racing and breeding in today's economic climate, and instead discuss the more lighthearted topic of horse names.  As we round out the year, The Jockey Club is receiving an influx of naming requests -- for weanlings being registered and for yearlings and 2-year-olds purchased at this year's sales.

What makes a great name?

Is it a single-word moniker like Secretariat or Citation or Unbridled, one that rolls off the tongue and sounds inspirational?  Or is it a name that smartly draws on the sire or dam -- such as Shakespeare (a son of Theatrical (IRE)) or Devil His Due (a product of the Devil's Bag-Plenty O'Toole cross)?  Or perhaps just something catchy and unique, like Smarty Jones or Lemon Drop Kid?

I've used variations of their parents' and grandparents' names before when naming my foals, and I've also stepped completely out of the box to give a horse an aptronym on occasion.  (For any Harry Potter fans out there... I recently obtained a scar on the center of my forehead when a weanling filly reared up and struck me while having her feet trimmed.  I named her ... Lady Voldemort.) 

Eighteen years ago, I clipped out an article from Sports Illustrated that took a humorous look at Thoroughbred racehorse names, and have studiously avoided "run-together" names. (Through the wonders of the Internet and the SI Vault, you can read the article here!) 

Do you have a favorite name -- either a horse you've seen running or one you named yourself?  Was it inspirational or humorous?  Or you just can't believe it got through the strict Jockey Club naming rules?  Share the name and why you think it's great.



Recent Posts


  • Pedigree Newsletter:
    The Five-Cross Files will be featured in a new Pedigree Analysis newsletter from To sign up for this free weekly email -- or any other newsletters from The Blood-Horse -- just click here.

Recommended Reading

More Blogs