How do horses get their monikers? Well potential horse owners, here are some of the basics.
First, you get a max of 18 characters (including spaces) to come up with a name.
When you register a race horse you have to come up with something original.
It can’t be vulgar or offensive in anyway. You can’t name a horse with initials or numbers.
You can’t name a horse after a living person unless you get written permission.
If you want to use a deceased famous persons name you’ll have to get permission by the Jockey Club first. They get the final approval on all names.
Once you have an idea (or several) for a name, you can check out the Online Names Book at the Jockey Club website. There you can actually enter any name you might want to use and see if it’s available.
The Jockey Club denies roughly 30% of the names requested.
The Jockey Club won’t allow names ending with filly, colt, stud, mare, stallion or any other horse related term.
You can’t name a horse after a racetrack or a Stakes Race.
You’re not able to use names that are clearly an advertisement. Nor can you have a similar name to another race horse around the same time frame.
They will recycle names after a waiting period but that depends on the horses accomplishments.
Some names have been retired and can never be used again, such as SEABISCUIT, MAN O’ WAR and SECRETARIAT just to name a few.
With all these restrictions you wonder how a name is ever decided on. You now see why so many names are weird and wacky.
Historically a simple way to name a Thoroughbred race horse is to use a name from their pedigree or some combination. Take for instance 2019 Preakness Stakes Winner WAR OF WILL his father (sire) is WAR FRONT.
Or simply choose a name that represents the horse’s personality or something as simple as its color, like, GUNMETAL GRAY, who was sidelined in 2019 due to injury.
But most of all have fun with the name.
In 1989 there was a filly named THE BRIDE. She never Won a race in her short career, but at least one time, at some nondescript race course, as the horses made the turn for home, the track announcer got to bellow “And here comes THE BRIDE!”