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6 Factors to Consider When Naming a Racehorse
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6 Factors to Consider When Naming a Racehorse

There are approximately 450,000 names of active thoroughbreds listed on the Jockey Club register. The Jockey Club does not consist of jockeys. Club members are in charge of the American Stud Book. If an owner wishes to breed or race a thoroughbred horse, the name of the horse must be registered in this book. Many of the names are quite whimsical in nature. Some of the racehorse names include Avenir Certain, Bustin Stones, Go Tebow Go, Little Hitler and a host of other unusual names. Naming a thoroughbred foal is no easy task. The submitted foal names are placed through an approval process for acceptance into the Jockey Club register. These six factors must be considered when naming a potential racehorse.

  1. 18 Characters:  The owner must keep a count on the letters contained in the name for the new foal. The name must consist of 18 characters or less to gain entry to the American Stud Book by the Jockey Club. Since entrance to the registry correlates to the horse’s value, the owners keep close tabs on the number of characters selected.
  2. Famous Names:  Names that infringe upon copyright laws are not allowed for obvious reasons. The name of a famous person may be utilized if written permission from the person, or the dead person’s family, is granted and submitted with the name application to the registrar. Names with obvious commercial value are generally refused.
  3. Lewd Names:  Lewd sounding names are not allowed to be added to the list. The names should be family friendly sounding names with no suggestive meaning. The registrar compares the names with an urban slang terminology dictionary also. A few names in poor taste have slipped through the registrar’s office from time to time.
  4. Pedigree Names:  Pedigree names are acceptable choices for a foal. The owner may select one name from the sire and another name from the dam. The names may be combined to name the new foal.
  5. Recycled Names:  The registrar’s office now allows thoroughbred racehorse names to be recycled every 10 years. It is possible for racehorses from different decades to carry the same name. Over the years, the list of names on the register has grown to the point that it is very difficult to name a new thoroughbred foal. The registrar’s office made this decision to ease the burden of selecting a name.
  6. Similar Sounding Names:  The Jockey Club checks for similar sounding names by deciphering the phonetics of a name through a computer software system. A name is not allowed that sounds too similar, when pronounced, to the name of a current thoroughbred race horse. Race fans could become quickly confused over winnings if two horses in the same race had similar sounding names.


Photo is courtesy of Deano’s Beeno (Beano) as uploaded by Kate on Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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  1. MReynolds
    Excellent, informative article -- thanks!
    1. Tenneyson
      I really enjoyed researching the article. Your comment is appreciated! Do you write on this site as well?

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