Why do racehorses have such strange names?

In horse racing, the name of the horse is as important as its ability to run. Many people believe that the name is half of the horse’s luck. Then why do owners give their animals such strange names? Once at the Kentucky Derby, horses with the names Comma to the Top, Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire, and Twice the Appeal took part in the race. Let’s figure out the secret of such ingenuity together with Centreforum.org.

Strict Rules

Many people don’t know about this, but every racehorse name must comply with strict rules set by the International Horseracing Federation. Also, depending on where the competition takes place, additional rules set by the local federation may come into effect.

According to the International Horseracing Federation, the name chosen for a horse must not be longer than 18 characters. And for owners to make the most of their imagination, spaces and punctuation marks are also included in these 18 characters. For this reason, many owners prefer to completely abandon spaces when choosing a name. A funny example of a horse name is Eighteencharacters. Surprisingly, this name has exactly 18 characters, which is what it says.

Also, two horses with the same name cannot participate in a race. And to avoid confusion, similar-sounding names are also prohibited. And if a horse retires, then its name cannot be given to a new animal, at least for another 20 years.

Basic rules for naming a horse

  1. We have already named the main rule – no more than 18 characters per name.
  2. You cannot use names consisting only of initials, such as S.L.O.T., M.O.D., etc.
  3. Names consisting only of numbers. Numbers over 30 can be used if they are spelt out.
  4. Names ending in ordinal numbers, such as “2nd”, “5th”, etc.
  5. The name must not end with terms related to the theme of horses, such as “filly”, “colt”, “stud”, “mare”, “stallion”.
  6. You can not use the name of a living person if he has not given written permission to do so.
  7. The name of persons who have already died may be used only with the permission of the Jockey Club based on a written explanation.
  8. The commercial names or names of racecourses where bets are accepted may not be used. And by the way, horse racing was the first sport on which it was possible to accept bets. But now on Meta.reviews, you can find a large selection of bookmakers that accept bets on dozens of sports disciplines.
  9. Do not use offensive names or names that might offend religious, political or ethnic groups.
  10. As for the same horse names, while it is necessary to wait 20 years for a horse’s normal name, the period for a race-winning horse for which bets have been accepted is extended to 25 years, and for the following categories the names are permanently removed from the list of available names:
  • Horse Hall of Fame;
  • Winners of the Horse of the Year Award;
  • Sovereign Award winners (Canadian Champions);
  • Winners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, The Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Turf;
  • Annual leading sire and broodmare sire by progeny earnings;
  • Winners of $2 million or more in total prize money;
  • Horses on the International List of Protected Names.


Because of so many rules, the Horseracing Federation rejects thousands of horse names every year and does not allow athletes to race. For the same reason, some owners bring a list of several names to the commission for at least one of them to be accepted. And the further the racing history develops, the more the racehorse owners have to use their imagination. If you decide to get a horse that will participate in the races, be sure to study the naming rules from the International Horseracing Federation, but in the meantime, you can study interesting materials on Telecomasia.net.