Is it easier to name a child than a horse? Victor Espinoza aboard American Pharoah celebrates winning the 141st Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs (Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports / AP photo)
Is it easier to name a child than a horse?
Lexile

Coming up with a clever name for a racehorse can be a challenge and not just creatively.

While parents simply put their choice of names for their child on a birth certificate and are done, registering a thoroughbred foal is not so easy.

The owners can submit up to six choices in order of preference to The Jockey Club in the registration process. Similar to choosing an online password, the name can't exceed 18 characters, must be available and comply with a lengthy list of guidelines.

And that's before it receives the blessing of The Jockey Club, which last year approved an estimated 26,000 of 36,500 names submitted.

The odds seem to be in an owner's favor, but that doesn't make it easy.

"The reason we have such quality control is to make things very clear to the layman, to the stakeholder, to a trainer, to a bettor," The Jockey Club manager of registration services Andrew Chesser said. "You want to avoid confusion, especially when you're talking about two particular horses that can be racing at the same time and breeding at the same time."

Chesser couldn't explain the 18-character limit other than it being the worldwide standard and added, "18 has just always seemed to work."

Some horses' names feature a combination of its sire (father) and dam (mother) or the damsire (mom's father). Others such as 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister are more creative: That colt was named after Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's son, Bode.

"You try to come up with a name you just might like," said Dallas Stewart, who trains Tale of Verve. "It's OK to be a little crazy with them. After all, it's your horse."

Owners can submit a name for free until Feb. 1 of the second year after the horse is born, then there's a $100 charge. Names can also be reserved.

The Jockey Club's list of exclusions is long and detailed and Triple Crown winners or any series race are permanently protected from duplication. Triple Crown winners have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in the same year.

That's just fine by Secretariat owner Penny Chenery, who proudly said of the legendary 1973 Triple Crown champion, "There's only one Secretariat."

A look at the backstories of the names of several entrants in the 140th Preakness, which took place on May 16.

AMERICAN PHAROAH: You might notice that his surname is a misspelling of the Egyptian ruler Pharaoh, a role made famous onscreen by Yul Brynner in "The Ten Commandments." Owner Ahmed Zayat, a native of Egypt who wanted a horse reflective of his culture, originally blamed The Jockey Club for the typo. The name was misspelled when it was submitted by a woman who won an online contest run by the family and the Zayats didn't catch it. No worries, since the horse has made a name for himself with his Derby and Preakness victories. He will try for the Triple Crown title June 6 at Belmont.

DANZIG MOON: Norman Casse, who helps his father, Mark, in training the horse, laughs as he explains this name as "pretty straightforward." His first name derives from his damsire, Danzig, his last name from sire Malibu Moon. Whether heavy metal band Danzig inspired the name is unclear. But its use has generated a social media cult following and Boston radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub recently played a game asking, "Is it a race horse or a bad local band?"

BODHISATTVA: The Buddhist term means someone who is enlightened and delays reaching Nirvana in order to save others. It'll be interesting to see if the California-bred colt is that selfless with his fellow horses if he's leading in the stretch. Extra credit for pronouncing the name correctly on the first try: (boh-dee-SAHT'-vah).

TALE OF VERVE: Another easy one, as owner Charles Fipke likes to pass horses' names down the line. This one derives from sire Tale of Ekati and dam Verve, whose damsire is 1990 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Unbridled.

MR. Z: Zayat's children submitted the name in honor of their father, who just sold the horse to Calumet Farm. Another son of Malibu Moon and trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, the chestnut colt looked to rebound from his 13th-place Derby finish but was a longshot in the Preakness where he finished fifth.

Critical thinking challenge: Why might someone want to use the name of a previous Triple Crown winner?

Assigned 10 times


COMMENTS (28)
  • stevef-Goo
    5/20/2015 - 08:42 a.m.

    Someone might want to use the name of a previous Triple Crown winner. The text states that if you have a good race horse, then you want it to be known. The text also states that the name can only be 18 characters long. Triple Crown winners have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in the same year. last year an estimated 26,000 of 36,500 names submitted.

  • tiffanylee-Goo
    5/20/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    Someone might want to use the name of a previous Triple Crown winner. The text states that the Jockey's Club list is long and detailed and Triple Crown winners or any series race are permanently protected from duplication. The text also states that Triple Crown winners have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes in the same year. The evidence from the text illustrates why somebody might want to use the name of a previous Triple Crown winner.

  • zachc-Goo
    5/20/2015 - 10:42 a.m.

    the people use the names because they think it could be good luck for that horse. the text states "The Jockey Club's list of exclusions is long and detailed and Triple Crown winners or any series race are permanently protected from duplication. Triple Crown winners have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in the same year." the text also states "You try to come up with a name you just might like," said Dallas Stewart, who trains Tale of Verve. "It's OK to be a little crazy with them. After all, it's your horse."

  • nickj-Goo
    5/20/2015 - 11:08 a.m.

    Someone might wanna use the same name as a previous winner because they can see some traits that the Triple Crown winner might have had. Maybe its the speed are the work the horse puts in. In the text it says they just see it in the horse and can see how its a Triple Crown winner.

  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    5/20/2015 - 01:18 p.m.

    I personally do not believe that there is anything harder to name than a child. Children are humans and always going to have to carry around that name, where as pets and animals do not really care.

  • nathang-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 11:09 a.m.

    i like horses they are nice and they smell nice. i once pet a horse and he was soft. i like the name Joey. i like biscuit and gravy and horses like carrots. When i play call of duty I only hit Billcams and I feed for dem quad feedz

  • anthonys1-Gon
    5/21/2015 - 11:15 a.m.

    If I were to name a horse I would name it Victor-Hugo after my grandfather who died when I was 2 years old because my mom said that he would never give up on his goals no matter what got in his way

  • kenzieh-Goo
    5/21/2015 - 06:24 p.m.

    The Triple Cown race is a huge horse race. There's three different races held in three different places. The first race in the Triple Cown is the Kentucky Derby it's held in Kentucky, second one is called The Preakness it's held in Baltimore, and the third one is call Balimont it's held in New York. It's very rare for a horse to win all three races within 8 weeks. Most horses can win the first two but since the Belimont is a mile and a half long most horses can't hold up. The last horse to win the triple crown was in 1978 his name was Affrimed. To this day there has never been another horse to win the triple crown. This year there has been one horse that has won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. On June 3rd 2015 the Belimont takes place. American Pharoah is the horse that has won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness this year if he wins the Belimont he will be the next Triple Crown winner in over 25 years. An owner of a racehorse might want their horse named after a Triple Crown winner because when they tell people they owned a certein race horse other people might think it's the triple crown winner the owner is talking about. Every racehorse owner knows all about the Triple Crown. They know it's the biggest, longest race and most difficult race in history. Owners know most horses can't be a Triple Crown winner so if they name their race horse after a wnner people might confuse the two horses, or some owners might think it will give them good luck. Since one horse won the Triple Crown that means if you name another horse after the winner he'll have the same luck. But it rarely ever works out that way.

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    5/21/2015 - 09:26 p.m.

    I feel like naming anything is hard. Not just kids or horses, but also other pets, any kinds of writings, and even inventions. Names are hard to come up with do to all of the thought that goes into it. Another reason that it is hard because most have to be checked for plagiarism (not humans, but material things like articles or essays).

  • jeremyw-Goo
    5/22/2015 - 09:03 a.m.

    Coming up with a name for a racehorse is very hard. The text states that some horses' names feature a combination of its sire and dam or the damsire. The text also states that Triple Crown winners or any series race are protected from duplication. The evidence from the text suggests that choosing a name for a horse is a long, tricky process.

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