Coming up with good racehorse names is a fun endeavor. Your only limits are good taste and your own imagination. Let’s take a closer look.
Horses Racing is wildly popular, and there are almost one million thoroughbred racehorses in the U.S. alone. There are over two million owners, and approximately seven million people work in various aspects of the industry.
Horse racing can be traced to Ancient Greece, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. It then spread to Europe and from there to North America. It is popular worldwide with horse racing in South American, Africa, and Asia as well. There are also several different styles of racing, Jump Racing or Steeple Chasing, Flat Track Racing, Saddle Trotting, Endurance Racing, and Harness Racing.
So, consider carefully when naming your horse; they are reflecting a long and rich history.
How Do They Name Racehorses?
Regardless of their real birthday, all thoroughbreds are given a birthday of January 1. This allows age group horses to be easily grouped. A horse must be registered with The Jockey Club within one year of its actual birth. A blood sample must be provided to research D.N.A. and lineage. There must also be proof that the foal was not produced through artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization.
An owner may be charged a late fee if their horse has not been named by February of its second year. At least six names must be submitted in order of preference for each horse. A horse may be renamed for a fee if the horse has not raced or been bred. All names must be approved by The Jockey Club.
The Jockey Club has quite a few rules determining what you can not use for your horse’s name. No initials like I.O.U., no horse terms like mustang, colt, or filly, no names that are solely numbers, no names of actual people (unless the actual person has agreed), and no names ending in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
But there are more, no names of racetracks or races, no commercial names like tradenames or trademarks, no offensive or vulgar names, and there is a restricted list of horse names that can not be used because of their significance. Many thoroughbreds use parts or references to their relatives to pay homage and get a little borrowed equity.
Famous Racehorse Names
Here is a list of some of the most revered thoroughbred racehorses to date:
Man o’ War
Born in 1917 in Kentucky, he won twenty out of his 21 races. He set three World Records and two American Records. He never raced in the Kentucky Derby, but his sire War Admiral won the Triple Crown.
This horse’s claim to fame is that it beat more Hall of Fame horses than any other horse in the 20th century. He had one of the longest careers in the sport, racing for five years and winning the Horse of the Year in his fourth and fifth years.
Undefeated in 25 of 25 races, Black Caviar was truly special. She hailed from Australia and ran mostly there apart from the 2012 U.K.’s Royal Ascot Diamond Jubilee Stakes, which she won.
He would be at the top of the record books if he had not been born the same year as Affirmed. Alydar finished second in The Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes in 1975. He lost all three races to Affirmed.
Another 1975 horse, John Henry won six and a half million in earnings. He won many significant races, including two Arlington Millions and a Santa Anita Handicap.
One of the winningest horses of all time, his total winning was almost ten million dollars. He was named Horse of the Year in 1998 as a five-year-old. He won The Jockey Club Gold Cup, Woodward Stakes, and the Breeder’s Cup.
Another horse that won almost ten million dollars. He won the 1995 Breeder’s Cup Classic and four Eclipse Awards. He never raced in any of The Triple Crown Races because he had not made a start in a stakes race until September of his third year.
The only horse on the list coming from Hungary. Kincsem is Hungarian for “my Precious.” She holds the record for most races without a defeat winning 54 of 54. She was foaled in 1874 and started racing at the age of two.
Unfortunately, an infection in his right hoof caused him to miss The Triple Crown races. But that didn’t stop him from winning 25 of 31 races and being named Horse of the Year in 1966. Over his career, he amassed winnings equivalent to $10 million in today’s dollars.
Perhaps the most famous non-Triple Crown winner on this list. A late bloomer who did not mature into a speedster until his third year. He defeated Triple Crown winner War Admiral in a match race at Pimlico. He was named Horse of the Year in 1938.
Triple Crown Winners
Winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes is a rare accomplishment. Nicknamed “The Triple Crown,” only 13 horses have won all three races. Beginning in 1919 and ending in 2018, here is the exclusive club:
Sir Barton (1919)
Gallant Fox (1930)
War Admiral (1937)
Count Fleet (1943)
Seattle Slew (1977)
American Pharoah (2015)
Funny Racehorse Names
Who says that thoroughbreds can’t have funny names? Here are a few to make you smile:
Free for All
Won’t Tell You
Goody Two Shoes
Bring My Burrito
That’s Show Business
Fifty Shades of Hay
Arrrrr (Prate Talk)
It’s a Long Story
Amusing Racehorse Names
Bangers N’ Mash
Hoof N’ Mouth
Hall & Oats
Forgot my Shoes
Queen of Trumps
Wheel of Fortune
All Daddy’s Money
New Year’s Day
Don’t Stop Now
Up For Anything
Not a Chance
Jabba the Hoof
Hand Me Another
Red Hot Filly Pepper
Forgot My Saddle
Stay Back at Least Three Lengths
Riding Miss Daisy
2021 Belmont Stakes YouTube Video
Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World are just two of the colorfully-named horses that ran the Belmont in 2021.
Cars with Horse Names
Horses are a popular name for car models. Here is a list:
Equus (Latin for Horse, a model made by Hyundai.)
Hafflinger (An Austrian Horse Breed.)
Pegaso (A Spanish Car and the Spanish word for Pegasus, the mythical winged stallion.)
Brumby (The Subaru Brat in America, the Brumby in Australia, Brumby means Feral Horse in Australian.)
Maverick (Usually used for cows, but applicable to any unbranded range animal.)
Pinzgaler (An Austrian Horse Breed.)
Camargue (A UK Horse Breed that was used for a car name by Rolls Royce.)
Themed Racehorse Names
So, a themed thoroughbred name conveys a secondary meaning. It could be named after someone (with their prior approval). It could be a place, a specific job, or a personality type. Here are some themed thoroughbred names:
Dr. Fager (The horse owner’s doctor.)
King of Kings
A Twist of Fate
Chase Your Dream
On the Town
Zero to Hero
Stop Shopping Debbie
Cool Racehorse Names
Have you ever seen a horse with sunglasses? Pretty cool, so here is a list of cool horse names:
Male Racehorse Names
Terlingua (Town in Texas that holds a Chili Cook-Off.)
Hennessy (A revered brand of cognac.)
Cap the Moment!
Maid of the Mist
Fun Racehorse Names
Believe in Miracles
Fly Me to the Moon
Sea the Stars
Colorful Racehorse Names
Fast as Lightning
We Are the Champions
Cute Thoroughbred Names
Yes, your horse could have a cute name. All horses don’t need Cool or Macho names; cute is just fine. Here is a list of cute names:
Rough N’ Tumble
My Dear Girl
Teddy Sweet Music
Little Princess Emma
Head Over Hoofs
Female Racehorse Names
Big Red (Nickname for Secretariat.)
A jockey can apply for an apprentice license at the age of 16. They also have the option of attending college first. There is one college for jockeys in the U.S. called the North American Racing Academy located in Kentucky. Apprentice jockeys must spend a certain amount of time working in stable, walking horses, and passing a health examination.
Once they have become a “journeyman jockey,” they must also adhere to the weight restrictions. The size of a horse determines how much a jockey can weigh (including equipment). Horses average, carrying 118 to 122 pounds. Jockey’s typically weighed 108 to 118 pounds. There are no height restrictions for jockeys. However, jockeys average 4’ 10” to 5’ 6”. Jockeys that are taller than this tend to miss the weight restrictions.
Funniest Home Stretch Call
At Monmouth Race Park on August 22, 2010, track announcer Larry Colmus called what is arguably the funniest home stretch. Two horses running in the race were named “My Wife Knows Everything” and “My Wife Doesn’t Know.” Of course, when it got to the final quarter-mile, those two horses were neck and neck. My Wife Knows Everything won by one length as the entire crowd was left laughing.
Final Fun Fact
In the Marx Brothers classic, “A Day at the Races,” Harpo Marx plays a jockey riding a horse named Hi-Hat. Hi-Hat and another horse are leading, but both horses fall and are covered in mud. The jockeys get back on the horses and ride off. Hi-Hat appears to lose the race but ultimately is declared the winner!
By Tim Moodie
One of Tim Moodie’s best friends in High School had a well-known grandmother in horse racing circles. She was Francis Genter, and he met Mrs. Genter several times. She was a wonderful woman filled with life and the owner of Unbridled. Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeder’s Cup Classic. Her husband, Harold, was the inventor of the pop-up toaster named “The Toastmaster.”
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