What’s in a Name? A Derby Winner. Top 10 List for 2015.

The first time I see some of these names I instantly send up a prayer and ask that this horse not win the Derby because of the ridiculous name.



Every year about this time I take a look at the list of two year olds that are receiving wagers in the Kentucky Derby future books in Vegas. I always thought it amazing that folks would wager on horses six months or so before a race. It is even more amazing that they wager on them with such limited information.

Last week I looked at a list of about 300 juveniles. Like most folks I only know or remember a few from their two old year season, and most I have never heard of. The majority, I am assuming, have never raced as of this date. It’s still fun to look at the list and see the odds and take particular note of the few with odds anywhere close to reality.

2013 Derby contender Verrazano

2013 Derby contender Verrazano

The other thing that is interesting is looking at the list and noticing the names the owners give their stock. The first time I see some of these names I instantly send up a prayer and ask that this horse not win the Derby because of the ridiculous name. Of course I think that some have great names and I praise the owners for their effort.

I took this year’s list and marked about 20 names I liked. My wife is not a handicapper but she enjoys the races and loves horses. She gets a big kick out of the names. I handed her the latest list of those in the Derby future book and told her to pick her top 20 to see where we could agree, as far as names are concerned. When it was over, we agreed on 10 names that were suitable for a great champion and Derby winner. Here are the current 2 year olds on the list the Parker’s have decided were “good ‘uns.”


Carpe Diem, Danny Boy, Eagle, Exodus, First Down, Lord Nelson, Moon River, Titan, War Envoy, War Story.


The only one with a solid track record worthy of a Derby wager, as far as I know, is Carpe Diem, which happened to be my pick to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he finished second. According to some translations his name means “to seize the day,” and I cannot think of a better way to describe the winner of the Run for the Roses after the Derby field crosses the line. But he is just one of many that have a chance.

The reason why I bring up the game Mrs. Parker and I play with names is because so many people do not know the rules associated with naming a thoroughbred. The Jockey Club makes the rules regarding names. The most important thing to know about naming a thoroughbred is to forget what you can do and understand what you cannot do.

There are many rules regarding the naming of a Thoroughbred. The most important rules for names NOT eligible for use are:

  1. Names consisting of more than 18 letters (spaces and punctuation marks count as letters);
  2. Names consisting entirely of initials such as C.O.D., F.O.B., etc.;
  3. Names ending in “filly,” “colt,” “stud,” “mare,” “stallion,” or any similar horse-related term;
  4. Names consisting entirely of numbers. Numbers above thirty may be used if they are spelled out;
  5. Names ending with a numerical designation such as “2nd” or “3rd,” whether or not such a designation is spelled out;
  6. Names of living persons unless written permission to use their name is on file with The Jockey Club;
  7. Names of persons no longer living unless approval is granted by The Jockey Club based upon a satisfactory written explanation submitted to the Registrar;
  8. Names of racetracks or graded stakes races;
  9. Names that are suggestive or have a vulgar or obscene meaning; names considered in poor taste; or names that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups;
  10. Names that appear to be designed to harass, humiliate or disparage a specific individual, group of individuals or entity;
  11. Names that are currently active either in racing or breeding
  12. Names of winners in the past 25 years of grade one stakes races;
  13. Permanent names. The list of criteria to establish a permanent name is as follows:
  14. Horses in racing’s Hall of Fame;
  15. Horses that have been voted Horse of the Year;
  16. Horses that have won an Eclipse Award;
  17. Horses that have won a Sovereign Award (Canadian Champions);
  18. Annual leading sire and broodmare sire by progeny earnings;
  19. Cumulative money winners of $2 million or more;
  20. Horses that have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, The Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Turf; and
  21. Horses included in the International List of Protected Names.

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