horse name hall of fame

There are plenty of serious and analytical things to love about horse racing, but horse racing also has facets that are just plain fun.  My favourite goofy facet of horse racing is the art of the horse name.

The first time I ever went to the track I had no idea how to read a racing form, so I bet on the horses with the funniest names.  I left Arlington Park with more money in my pocket than I arrived with that day, because a horse named He’s Hot Sauce (Cartwright — Zen’s Hot Sauce, by Zen) won a state-bred N2X at 7.5/1.  It turns out, his female line just screams silly names: his second dam was the Sauce Boat mare Stake Sauce.  Alas, the puntastically and ambitiously named Stake Sauce did not win any stakes races, though He’s Hot Sauce did win two.

Though I never (okay…almost never) bet solely based on goofy names anymore, I still thoroughly enjoy them, and tweet about them quite frequently.  This is a slightly more permanent landing for the best of the best: an ongoing repository of horse names that strike my fancy.

My very favourite horse names are the ones that make a clever play based on both sides of the pedigree.  They typically require no other explanation than those root names, and then taking a split second to let it sink in.

  • Abscond (Blame – Solitary Life)
  • Abyssinian (Cairo Prince – Shesakitty)
  • Add Some Alcohol (Purim – Shirley Temper)
  • Adopt Me (Street Cry – Precious Kitten)
  • Alcohol Free (No Nay Never – Plying)
  • Antifreeze (It’s Freezing – I’m Really Smokin)
  • Awol Adam (Military – Runaway Emily A)
  • Berate (Blame – Orate)
  • Burrito (Tabasco Cat – Dinners On Me)
  • C. Zee (Elusive Bluff – Diamondaire)
  • Capitalism At Risk (Bull Market – Stock Price)
  • Charismatic Pulpit (Pulpit – Karis Macaw, by Charismatic)
  • Chide (Blame – Yell)
  • Confide (Phone Trick – Bag of Tricks)
  • Corrupt (Belong to Me – Taxable Deduction)
  • Cutting Humor (First Samurai – Pun)
  • Don’task Don’ttell (To Honor and Serve – Askbut I Won’ttell)
  • Edging (Straight Line – Lawn)
  • Embezzlement (Cat Thief – The Administrator)
  • Flatware (Flatter – Culinary)
  • Four Left Feet (Trippi – Romance Dance)
  • Fluffy Socks (Slumber – Breakfast Time)
  • Get Hammered (Stay Thirsty – Three Cherries, by Hennessy)
  • Happy Drunk (Pleasant Tap – Double Schott)
  • Harassment Case (Badger Land – Cherry Tart)
  • Hello America (Point of Entry – I O Ireland)
  • Hideous (Distorted Humor – Flatter Me)
  • Hurricane Bernie (Sea of Secrets – Deceptive)
    • To make it even better, both Hurricane Bernie and Hurricane Bertie were Bernie Flint trainees.
  • Infinite Zest (Lemon Drop Kid – Allshewrote)
  • Istanly (Istan – Now)
  • Its Cold in Dehere (Ice Box – Suee’s Hero, by Dehere)
  • Lawyer Talk (Alleged – Jibber Jabber)
  • Life in Shambles (Broken Vow – Life)
  • Lion N Cheatin (Lion Hearted – Marion’s Dover)
    • Lion N Cheatin was born in 2006.  2006-2007 was the heyday of the investigation into runner Marion Jones’s use of performance enhancers.
  • Misandry Mermaid (Macho Uno – Freedom Come)
  • Night Owl (Animal Kingdom – No Curfew)
  • Nile High Club (Pioneerof the Nile – Skymiler)
  • No Fighting (War Front – Sweet Science)
  • Numbers Never Lie (Misremembered – Quarterly Report)
  • Orb of the Boro (Orb – I Love America)
  • Overdrawn (Charitable Man – Bank Teller)
  • Pardon the Pun (Flatter – Hennesey Smash)
  • Praise the Kitten (Kitten’s Joy – Great Doxology)
  • Prince of Mayhem (Violence – Paisley Park)
  • Purr Sea (Midshipman – Kitty’s Castle)
  • She’s All Skeet (Trappe Shot – She’s All Scat)
  • She’s Sterling (Silver Deputy – Miss Turlington)
  • Shezastonecoldingo (Lonhro – Shesastonecoldfox)
  • Secede (War Front – Leave)
  • Shimmy Shack (Shackleford – Atlanta Highway)
    • The best of several good names from that mare: Atlanta Highway has also produced Jukebox Money (English Channel) and Glitteronthehiway (Tale of the Cat).  Sense a theme?
  • Skywarn (Congrats – Rising Tornado)
  • Sobersick N Sorry (Trappe Shot – Shocking Behavior)
  • Social Network (Offlee Wild – Website)
  • Somelikeithotbrown (Big Brown – Marilyn Monroan)
  • Sonnet Boom (Shakespeare – Cry of the Wild)
  • Spy a Star (Speightster – Given Star)
  • Stalled (Jump Start – Push My Luck)
  • Stealin’ Gasoline (Siphon – Rare Flight)
  • Storm Temple Pilot (Temple City – Launchastorm)
  • Teardownthatwall (Free House – Soviet Problem)
  • The Canary Lived (Cool Coal Man – Smart Lady Doc)

Even if a name does not riff on both parents, sometimes it riffs on one ancestor so well that it stands out.

  • Ada Lovelace (Algorithms – Indian Miss)
    • Thank goodness a filly from Algorithms’s first crop was named after the first computer programmer.
  • Afleet Accompli (Afleet Alex – Competition)
    • A win may not necessarily be a fait accompli, but a giggle whenever this gelding shows up on the worktab or the overnight is.
  • Arlingtons Revenge (The Apache – Cleome)
    • No one will forget sire The Apache’s DQ in the 2013 Arlington Million anytime soon.  Mike de Kock trained The Apache for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum; de Kock both trains and co-owns Arlingtons Revenge.
  • Armored Car (Giant’s Causeway – Gold Mover)
    • That is why such a thing exists.
  • Arsen Annie (Kerosene – Anchor Tennant)
    • This name’s on fire.
  • Beemie Award (Distorted Humor – In Bloom)
    • The Beemie Awards are weird, funny, and the best night of the year on racing Twitter.
  • Call Triple A (Jump Start – Mrs. Vanderbilt)
    • It’s basically their reason for existing.
  • Colonial Power (Curlin – Provincial)
    • The name has nothing to do with him being a Curlin baby, but the sidelong yet brutally honest take on the dam’s name works.
  • Copperplate (Curlin – Verdana Bold)
    • Bonus for being a chestnut.
  • Cover Version (Medaglia d’Oro – Vaguely Familiar)
    • It’s…not wrong.
  • D’Bunnyphone (D’Funnybone – Wanda Nevada)
    • Ten points for finding the cutest spoonerism ever.
  • Denoun N Deverb (Denouncer – Honey’s Connection)
    • Two of this Illinois-bred multiple stakes winner’s progeny have been real runners: the multiple stakes winner Sasy Ms. Elizabeth, and the solid allowance contender Flying Mr K.  However, I wait with bated breath for the day when a Denoun N Deverb baby has a grammar joke in their name.
  • Emma Lazarus (Point of Entry – De Aar)
  • Irish You Well (Broken Vow – Pun)
    • This groan-worthy wordplay works so well because Irish You Well was originally campaigned by Donegal Racing, who often uses Irish-themed horse names.
  • J Jett (Bernstein – Lavigne)
    • You think Avril Lavigne rocks?  No, no, no.  I’ll show you a real rocker chick.
  • Jukebox Money (English Channel – Atlanta Highway)
    • Why yes, I’ve spent many a late night belting out “Love Shack” in a dingy karaoke bar.  And, bonus points for John Dooley’s emphatic, sing-song call of her maiden win at Arlington.
  • Keen Ice (Curlin – Medomak)
    • Despite its lack of an Irish theme, he is another Donegal horse.  They named a Curlin baby after a curling term.  Keen Ice is fast ice, ice on which a stone travels easily with less effort to push it.  Unfortunately there were a few more obstacles in his way on Derby Day than a curling stone may encounter, but his name remains clever.
  • Long Face (Whywhywhy – Louve Mysterieuse)
    • Hopefully she’s walked into at least one bar.
  • Lebowski (First Dude – Storm Miss)
    • Obvious?  Maybe.  But, thank goodness someone did this, and did this in her sire’s first crop.  The Big Lebowski is the First Dude, after all.
  • Macarthur (Charge Forward – Mozambique)
    • A five star name for a Charge Forward baby.
  • Nope (No Nay Never – Bright Sapphire)
    • A shorter version of the same sentiment.
  • Sahara Toga Party (Desert Party – Tricky Move)
    • Making this name even better?  She is New York-bred.
  • Sku (Repriced – Ratatuia)
    • Way to turn the messy details of retail into a horse name!
  • Sponsored (Runhappy – Summer Cruise)
    • Bonus points: he’s owned by Mattress Mack.
  • Tasseography (Afleet Alex – Chinese Tea)
    • Why yes, tasseography does refer to the art of reading tea leaves.
  • Thunder Down Under (Lonhro – Wallstreeter)
    • There’s a certain “dammit, Beavis!” hilarity in the fact that he’s a gelding.
  • Tiny Danza (Danza – Promise to Peg)
    • And, if we’re judging from his early two-year-old form…he’s a closer, Tiny Danza.
  • Val Caponi (Volponi – Spycial)
    • OF COURSE he’s Illinois-bred.
  • Waddle (Stroll – Fusionista)
    • The adorable antithesis of strolling.
  • Wave of the Wand (Ben Bulben – A Blink and a Nod)
  • Wile E Peyote (City Zip – Peyote Patty)
    • This is two generations of Doing Horse Naming Right, as his dam is so appropriately a Cactus Ridge mare.
  • Wiley Cayoke (Cayoke – Always In Command)
    • If only she were a few years younger, because a matchup with Wile E Peyote would have made for a delightful race call.
  • Willa Cather (Pioneering – Mystery of Faith)
    • Literary references, for the win.  It’s a more clever take on sire Pioneering than going for the obvious explorer or settler name.
  • Zircon Zloty (Street Boss – Ruby Ruble)
    • Honourable mention to half-siblings Diamond Dollar, Golden Guilder, Platinum Pound, and Silver Shekel.

Some names were clearly created just to mess with track announcers; as a race call aficionado, such names amuse me greatly.

  • Jimmy by a Nose (Silver Zipper – Naperville)
    • He made it onto my radar when he hit the worktab in October 2014, though he did not debut until April 2015.  According to trainer Chris Ryan, he got his name because of his long head.  He retired (through CANTER Chicago!) in the spring of 2016, still a maiden — but a maiden with a great name, and a great nose.

      It’s Jimmy…by an extremely cute nose!
  • Thecoltintheback (Cayoke – Fuzzy Side Up)
    • This one jumped out at me on March 24, 2015, when listening to a call at Fairmount.  I was briefly confused as to why the announcer referred to “the colt in the back” but then kept calling new horses, and then figured out that was actually the name of a runner.  He did not bring up the rear; he came up the rail for fourth in a field of nine.
  • Yakahickamickadola (Kamehameha – Sony Gay)
    • He may have been a bit before my time, but fortunately Tom Durkin’s attempts to pronounce this name when he raced at Hialeah Park have been recorded for posterityOne night in 2013 I used “No, Tom, It’s Yakahickamickadola” as my nom de pub quiz in order to throw the quizmaster for a loop, but he pronounced it correctly on the first try.

Finally, there are the names that have nothing to do with either of the parents, but still make the racing form a happier or more interesting place.

  • Coltimus Prime (Milwaukee Brew – Certainly Special)
    • I figured out during his Display Stakes run in 2013 that he was a sharp racehorse…but I doubt I would have turned that race on at all if not for his excellent name.
  • Dame of Thrones (Fort Prado – Jacquie Sue)
    • She’s not a chestnut, so I’m guessing they don’t see much Cersei Lannister in her.  Thank goodness.
  • Eighteencharacters (Tribal Rule – Midnite Mama)
    • Eighteen characters is the most allowed for a Thoroughbred horse name…and it’s perfect that the phrase comes out to exactly eighteen characters.
  • Hippodrome (Animo de Valeroso – Hypnosis)
    • Yo, dawg, I heard you like horse racing, so I put Hippodrome in your hippodrome…
  • Landbiscuit (Orb – Dreams of Fire)
    • I can’t believe it took all the way until the 2020s to see a horse named Landbiscuit.
  • Lisa’s Mad Again (Animo de Valeroso – Lucky Deputy)
  • Pepper Roani (Broken Vow – Ho Joy)
  • Potoooooooo (Eclipse – Sportsmistress)
    • “Hey, write this horse’s name on the feed bin.  Potatoes.”  *Writes Pot, followed by eight o’s*.  Honourable mention in the one-parent category to this horse’s prepotent son at stud: Waxy (Potoooooooo – Maria).
  • Reversiontothemean (Curlin – Jet Setter)
    • I doubt I will ever know what possessed someone to name a racehorse Reversiontothemean, but as both a math person and a bastion of mediocrity, I enjoy this name thoroughly.
  • Sultan of Swatara (Offlee Wild – Faith’s Way)
    • As befits his name, he has done the vast majority of his running at Penn National.
  • Variegated (Bah Da Bling – Janine)
  • Win (Barachois – Par Ci Par La)
    • Naming a horse “Win” may put a lot of pressure on…but safe to say you’ve earned that name if you’ve got a few Grade 1 races to your credit.  (Thanks for the suggestion, Jan!)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of excellent horse names, and will slowly grow as I discover or remember names that bear repeating.

Do you have any favourite horse names?  Feel free to let me know in the comments!

17 thoughts on “horse name hall of fame

  1. Alysheba was my favorite horse – Alydar/Bel Sheba He does not have a funny name but it is a great combo of both his parents names.

    There were a few good ones I just remembered. If you do a youtube search for them, you can hear the great Tom Durkin calling the race.
    Arrrrr Arrrrr Arrrr

    • Alysheba is a well-combined name…it’s not a play on words, really, but it’s well put together, and rolls off the tongue really well.

      i love all those calls…though i think Doremifasolatido is my favourite among those. pretty sure it’s the longtime choir nerd in me!

    • i had never heard of him…just looked him up, and saw he’s by a sire named Judge Smells. i am laughing so hard right now…this is amazing! thank you!

  2. I keep a whole .txt file on these…already had some you listed, here are some more:
    Tiz T’Was
    Closeout (by Repriced out of Deep Discount)
    Nacho Friend (by Friends Lake out of You’renotlistening)
    Tizdejavu (by Tiznow out of Remember When)
    Weird Al (by Accordion)
    Remember to Yodel (by Memo out of I Can Yodel)
    Whatabootie (by Storm Boot out of Whatabull (by Holy Bull))
    Rousing Sermon (by Lucky Pulpit out of Rousing Again, by Awesome Again)
    Time Marches On (by Leading the Parade out of Timeleighness)
    Pink Leninade (by Lemon Drop Kid out of Soviet)
    Ostensibly (out of Supposedly)
    Plausibly (out of Supposedly)
    Tapitsdontlie (by Tapit out of Really a Fibber, by For Really)
    Who We Gunna Call (by Ghostzapper out of Touch Dial, by Phone Trick)
    Tapitforpar (by Tapit out of Montpar, by Montbrook)
    Readytodefer (by Defer out of Ms. Readiness)
    Wildheirdeux (by Wildcat Heir out of Deux Amours)
    Envy a Bull (by This Bulls for You out of Envy Me)
    Penthouse Party (by Offlee Wild out of Expect Excellence)
    Drunk Dial (by Touch Tone out of Spiked Punch, by Two Punch)
    Aisle Be Patient (by Aisle out of Patience and Hope)
    Maria’s Own (by Maria’s Mon out of Possession, by Belong to Me)
    Quixsand (by Say Florida Sandy out of Quixiefromdixie, by Dixie Brass)
    Done Talking (by Broken Vow out of Dixie Talking)
    No Lak of Smarts (by Precocity out of No Lak of Heart)
    Let’s Get Married (by More Than Ready out of Vow That Binds)
    Mad Bomber (by Lite the Fuse out of Madilynreign)
    Keep Singing (by Stevie Wonderboy out of Keep It Going)
    Quarry Tremor (by Rock Slide out of Underneath It All)
    Hardly Patient (by Hard Spun out of With Patience)
    Tribal Peace (by Tribal Rule out of No Trouble Tweenus)
    Fidgity Felon (by Cat Thief out of Ant’s in Her Pants)
    Causeyouoweme (by Niagara Causeway out of The World Owes Me)
    Pasture Rise (out of Goat Cheese)
    Catch Ya Later (by After Market out of Safety Net)
    Timeless Facts (by Classified Facts out of Perpetual, by Timeless Moment)
    Eight Riders (by Posse out of Ale Eight Woman, by Gone West)
    Mela Dramatically (by Theatrical out of Guagamela)
    Milkyyourway (by Andromeda’s Hero out of Galaxy Spirit, by Galaxy Guide)
    Easter Child (by Repent out of Christmas List)
    Pretty Much Mine (by Half Ours)
    Mizzen the Cookies (by Mizzen Mast out of Chocolate Chip)
    Desert Recon (by Outflanker out of Castlesinthesand)
    Rising Dough (by Peaks and Valleys out of Crumpet)
    Sharp Tongue (by Sharp Humor out of Sensorious Kiss)
    Romancemediscretly (by Discreet Cat out of Dance’n Romance)
    Area Fifty One (GB) (by Green Desert out of Secret History)
    Rome Burned (by Empire Maker out of Scorching)
    Air France (by French Deputy out of Twin Propeller)
    Maglev (by Silver Train out of Electrostat)
    Annual Dues (by Devil His Due out of Years)
    General Quickie (by Fastness (IRE) out of General’s Affair, by Patton)
    Cursive (Straight Talking out of Signature (GB))
    Full of Sugar (by Candy Ride out of Capacity)
    Space Cowboys (by Cosmonaut out of Western Lariat)
    Hold Me Tight (by Hold Me Back out of In a Squeeze)
    Do I Make Ya Dance (by Two Step Salsa out of Do I Make Ya Randi)
    Fondant (by Candy Ride out of Fond)
    Jacob Marley (by Ghostzapper out of Assets On Ice)
    Surrealistic (by Distorted Reality)
    Improv (by Distorted Humor out of One Caroline)
    Pram (by Stroll out of My Papoose)
    Pining (by Pine Bluff out of True Love)
    Earlybirdspecial (by Super Saver out of Early Vintage, by Jump Start)
    Bigscreenlady (by Red Giant out of Actressa, by Theatrical)

    …I collect them *blush*

    • THERE IS A WEIRD AL BY ACCORDION?! WHOA. that is…amazing. i can’t believe i’ve never heard of this horse before. thank you, thank you, thank you!

      also, Drunk Dial is so inspired. and Pasture Rise. puns make the world go around.

      i’ve actually seen Pink Leninade race, a ton. looks like she’s out at the Mountain now, but she raced at Hawthorne and Arlington a lot. i always smiled when i saw her, because her name was so well played.

      finally, i LOVE that Air France is on your list. she’s the dam of Air Squadron — a Curlin baby, and one I saw in person at Hawthorne last year!

      thank you so much for sharing your list!

      • you’re very welcome, I’m glad to help others appreciate the namer’s creativity…I always feel sorry for people who name a horse cleverly, but if the horse doesn’t become a star, few ever realize it

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