racehorseAs rich and storied as the history of thoroughbred horse racing is, I think it can all be boiled down to the naming of thoroughbred racehorses.

I’m fairly certain that the actual racing of horses was a byproduct of a bunch of owners being like “Well, we’ve got all these horses with cool names. What are we gonna do with ‘em now? Guess we’ll have ‘em run around on some dirt or something.” This is because there’s no other reason why anyone would want to take part in horse racing. “Hey I happen to like horse racing,” you may say. Well you should go outside to these things called roads. See those machines zooming by? Every single one of them is faster than a horse. Even that Geo Metro you saw puttering by. It’s still at least twice as fast as a horse, AND you can ride it without having to be small (not an insult, jockeys are on average between 4’10” and 5’6”).

Look, I get it. There was a time and a place for it. Back when horses were all the rave cause it was the only form of transportation. But nowadays, it’s just a not-even-remotely-veiled excuse to gamble, which means it’s enjoyed most by people who have buckets of money or people who have gambling problems (sometimes both *cough* MJ *cough*). Hell, the most exciting two minutes in sports hasn’t been the Kentucky Derby for years. It’s the final two minutes of just about any other sport (unless it’s a blowout), my bedroom Olympics included (again, unless it’s a blowout).

But the naming of the horse? Now that’s something I can get behind. In this year’s Belmont Stakes, some of the horse names included:

  • Tonalist
  • Medal Count

  • Commissioner

  • General a Rod

  • Commanding Curve

  • Ride on Curlin

And those are the top of their game. I recently had lunch at an Off-track Betting joint (it was a family affair, and they happened to have surprisingly tasty buffalo chicken wontons), and they had at least 4 TVs showing horse races. That there are more than 0 horse races going on simultaneously is mind-boggling enough, but 4? And no offense to the racehorses who competed and may be reading this, but these are not top-tier races I was seeing. If your name is Hashtag Bourbon, you’re not gonna be a winning horse (sorry Hashtag, you’re a good horse who can make a mean guac, just not a winner). In light of the surely hundreds of nameless horses out there, I took it upon myself to help owners come up with winning names.

The first rule of horse-naming is that you can’t use a real name. You’ll never hear an announcer yell “AND IT’S JIM WITH THE PHOTO FINISH VICTORY!” That’s ‘cause a horse named Jim will be much more interested in lawn care tools than racing. It’s no coincidence you never saw Mr. Ed race (you watched Mr. Ed, right?). If you’re so unimaginative that you have to go with a single-word name, then go with either something militaristic (Admiral, General, Secretariat), or a 5- to 20-letter word that’s completely random (Proximal, Haberdashery, Tonalist).

Names that are two words long (note: NOT first and last names) are probably your best bet. You can find something that’s slightly cheeky, turbo random, and completely meaningless. SEA BISCUIT. As a nod to the racehorse-naming past, you may choose to go with one or two medieval words. Sir is a good start, as is Knightly, Feudal, Chalice, or any royal title. When using such a word, the other cannot be in a related topic, but should be a sad attempt at humor. Sir Knightly is stupid and will lose a race. Knightly Cravings is just poor enough of a comedic attempt to win at least a couple of races.

That being said, when discussing temperatures you absolutely must inversely relate them. Fiery Ice is great. Icy Deadpeople is…well actually that’s pretty awesome too, but I inadvertently stumbled onto the Willis-Movie Pun paradox, so that’s a bad example of the point I was making. Alliteration is generally approved, though you probably won’t be winning the Triple Crown (only one alliterated horse, Seattle Slew, has done so).

Anything beyond two should generally be avoided. Yeah, yeah, there’s Man o’War, but I don’t consider a letter and an apostrophe a word, and if I’m wrong you can suck it, English language! The problem with going beyond two words is that you just end up making the horse (but mostly yourself) look like an a-hole (pardon my hyphenated cussin’). Oh you named your horse “I’ll Have Another?” Awesome. Guess what you didn’t have another of? A win (sick burn, son!). The cheekiness of names only works when it’s crazyballs random or short enough to where people don’t think “They should lay off the mint juleps before naming their horses.”

So for my money (‘cause it’s a betting sport and whatnot), I’d say go with a random two-word horse name that includes something regal/medieval. If you want to win the Triple Crown at some point, find yourself a horse and name it one of these. Just remember that I trademarked all of these names so you owe me like a rootbeer float when you win (I don’t know how trademarking works):

  • Gallant Whirlygig

  • Admiral Shtupp

  • Autonomous Collective*

  • Serfs Up

  • McClane-ing Victory (another Willis-Movie Paradox winner)

  • Duke E’Hauser

  • Magistrate Fritter

  • Governor Ramshackles

*This horse will win because it has the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.