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)
  • keeganr-Goo
    5/22/2015 - 09:40 a.m.

    He might want to name his horse after a previous Triple Crown winner for good luck. The text states The owners can submit up to six choices in order of preference to The Jockey Club in the registration process. The text also states Some horses' names feature a combination of its sire and dam or the damsire. 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. The text illustrates exactly why a horse would be named after a Three Crown winner.

  • coreyong-Koc
    5/22/2015 - 03:25 p.m.

    For three years, Charlotte Brown has been chasing a medal by trying to jump over a bar she couldn't see.
    The senior pole vaulter finally cleared that bar, earning a third-place finish at the Texas state high school championships. And proudly joining her on the podium as the bronze medal was draped around her neck her service dog Vador.
    Brown is blind, yet that's not stopped her quest to become one of the best in an event that would seem next to impossible.
    "I finally did it," Brown said. "If I could send a message to anybody, it's not about pole vaulting and it's not about track, it's about finding something that makes you happy despite whatever obstacles are in your way."
    Brown had qualified for the state meet each year since 2013 with Emory Rains High School and she finished eighth as a sophomore and improved to fourth as a junior.
    At her hotel room before the finals, Stori Brown tried to counsel her daughter that it was important to remember that she was one of the few to make it this far, whether she won a medal or not.
    "No," Charlotte replied, "I need to be on that podium."
    Brown was born with normal vision, but developed cataracts when she was 16 weeks old and that led to the first of several operations, including insertion of artificial lenses. Her vision stabilized until she was about 11 when it started to worsen.
    By 2013, she still had pinhole vision but couldn't see color or distinguish shape from shadow. Brown is now blind, though while she is not faced with total darkness, her mother described what remains as a "jigsaw puzzle" of mixed up shades of light and dark.
    Despite her disability, Brown takes pride in her fierce spirit of independence, born out of growing up in a family with two older brothers who pushed her to help herself in the rural town of Emory, about 75 miles east of Dallas.
    Run down a track and hurtle herself more than 11 feet into the air? No problem.
    Brown first took up pole vaulting in seventh grade because she wanted something a little "dangerous and exciting." She competes with a combination of fearless abandon and meticulous attention to detail. She counts the seven steps of her left foot on her approach, listening for the sound of a faint beeper placed on the mat that tells her when to plant the pole and push up.
    At the state meet, Vador walked her to the warm-up area and stretched out behind the jumpers as they went through each attempt.
    Brown missed her first attempts at 10-0 feet and 10-6 but cleared both on her second try. She cleared 11-0 on her first attempt, then soared over 11-6. She secured a medal when two other vaulters bowed out at that height, leaving Brown among the last three in the field.
    She made three attempts at 11-9 but missed each one. She briefly slumped her shoulders and shook her head after her final attempt, then got to her feet to acknowledge the standing ovation from several hundred fans she could hear but not see.

  • CapeleyZ-1
    5/22/2015 - 04:07 p.m.

    This article was about how difficult it is to name a horse. IN this article, naming a horse was compared to naming a child by saying how much easier it is to name a kid. All you have to do is write a name on their birth certificate and you are done. With horses you have to put the name through The jockey club. The name choosing has guidelines such as it cannot be taken. That is why horses have such odd names such as Tale Of Verve and Mr.Z: Zayat. i think that this is crazy

  • jorgeh-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 12:10 p.m.

    I dont even want a horse after reading how hard it is to name one. Its kind of funny though how it takes a longer process than naming a child. A childs name should be unique too. But then again theres alot of people we'd have some crazy names. I think id name my horse rarri 498.

  • alizel-Koc
    5/25/2015 - 11:30 p.m.

    I don't agree that it is easier to name a child than a horse, because you can honestly name a horse anything. You can name it "Fluffy", "Bob", etc. Naming a child wouldn't be just naming it anything, a child's name would have more meaning and importance to it. Not saying that a horse's name doesn't, but a child does mean more than a horse. To me, someone might want to use the name of a previous Triple Crown Winner for their personal reasons. They may be a fan of them. they just might find their name unique, they may think that the name of the winner has so much history to it, etc. There are various reasons.

  • haileyr-Koc
    5/26/2015 - 12:56 a.m.

    For them to have all these name requirements is a little ridiculous. Why can't you just name the horse something you like, why must it be crazy? I think that it is easier to name a child over a horse. Naming a kid you can call them whatever you want, no requirements.

  • chriss-Koc
    5/26/2015 - 09:06 a.m.

    It makes sense that a house would be harder to name. Horses are supposed to have clever names so if they win its a catchy type name that will have more people rooting for it

  • 9amys
    5/26/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    Someone might want to use the name of a triple crown winner because then it would be like the tripple crown horse. Use Secretariat as an example, if someone heard the name they would immediately think of the famous race horse that would increase bidding on that horse because they know that Secretariat was amazing.

  • ratiaira
    5/26/2015 - 01:41 p.m.

    wow i did not think that it was harder to name a child faster than a horse i mean i thought it was the same thing it is easy to name something special or important

  • antonios-Koc
    5/27/2015 - 12:29 a.m.

    This story makes me think about legacy and pride. Horses are proud members of a family, carrying their accomplishments on the names, like royalty. The fact that there is an association regulating names to ensure uniqueness is interesting. The time and creativity that owners invest coming up with the names is a reflection of the important role that these creatures have for the horse owners. The fact that the owners want to keep the winners names, is a reflection of legacy

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