Naming prized thoroughbreds comes with lots of rules and regulations
Ever wonder how racehorses get their names? Owners must follow specific rules set out by the Jockey Club.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Picking a name for your baby or puppy can be tough considering future taunting on the playground might be your only restriction. But when it comes to naming a thoroughbred not only must it sound good when announced over the loudspeaker, it must meet strict guidelines.
Andrew Chesser is with the Jockey Club, the Lexington organization responsible for approving the names of all racehorses in North America.
"We receive 40,000 each year and about 70% are approved on the first try," said Chesser.
The rejects most likely broke the very specific guidelines set out in the rule book.
Restriction number one- The name can't be more than 18 characters.
"That includes spacing, punctuation, things of that sort," said Chesser.
Back when the Jockey Club was founded in 1894, it was a much longer process involving paper forms and a long backlog. But now, just enter your choice into an online database and find out immediately if it's available. There can't be repeats. Once a name is in active use, it's off the market. Some monikers are permanently protected.
"You won't see another Secretariat, American Pharoah, Nyquist or California Chrome in the near future, if at all," said Chesser.
Want to name your horse after a person? They better be on board.
"So long as you have permission from them, if it's a friend or even if it's a more famous individual, if you're using their first and last name," said Cheser.
Using just a last name is okay, which is why horses like Gronkowski and Mendelssohn got the stamp of approval.
"It's more vague than if you're naming it after a specific individual," said Chesser.
As far as how owners choose a name, for many it's all about pedigree and lineage using mom and dad as inspiration.
"In the case of a horse like Magnum Moon is a colt by Malibu Moon, or the case of Bolt d'Oro is a colt by Medaglia d'Oro," he said.
Nowadays, many farms are taking it to the masses like in the case of Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah, a name submitted by a fan during an online contest.
"A lot of farms and owners have gone to these lengths to crowd-source social media or through their own websites trying to come up with the best possible name they can for their horse."
Pharoah was spelled incorrectly, but that isn't against Jockey Club rules so it was approved.
While a name doesn't determine a winner, for some it's how they place a bet.
"There are a lot of people that make maybe one wager every year that being the Kentucky Derby, and they might base it strictly on what they name that horse," said Chesser.
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