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Top-10 Racehorse Names

19 May 2008

There are different types of bettors in horse racing. Some pore over the racing forms, delve into fractions and turf conditions and other key indicators in order to make an "informed" wager. But many more rely on other key factors -- like cool names -- to make their bets. So in homage (or blatant pandering) to this the sector of bettors, we offer our Top-10 horse names. Because it's Triple Crown season in the U.S. and we love Big Brown, we restricted the list of contenders to horses who, at some point, have raced in either the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes. And our final 10 features a group of names that not only sound cool, but would easily roll off the tongues of track announcers everywhere.

10. Sinister Minister

Some names are just fun to say, especially at the racetrack, and this is one of them. The colt's dam was Sweet Minister, though how the moniker Sinister caught hold is unknown. Sinister Minister finished 16th in the 2006 Kentucky Derby.

9. Editor's Note

Almost every journalist in 1996 bet on this horse in some form or the other. And while they were disappointed by the colt's performance in the Derby, their blind faith was rewarded when Editor's Note finished third in the Preakness, sending cheers throughout the infield at Pimlico (revisionist history sure, but we reporters swear by it).

8. Sorry About That

This horse finished eight at the Preakness in 1988. But that almost doesn't matter. The only thing that really counts is picturing the track announcer yelling "Sorry About That" every time the horse made a move and poor fans trying to figure out if he was talking about the horse or apologizing for something.

7. Gone Fishin'

Track announcers must of had tons of fun at the expense of this colt, which finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby and third in Preakness in 1958. I can just hear them now..."Gone Fishin' is making her move, trying to reel in the field..."

6. Bourbon Prince

When you mix alcohol and royalty, you get a great name for a horse. Bourbon Prince finished fifth in the 1960 Kentucky Derby.

5. Smarty Jones

The name of this champion, who won the Derby and Preakness in 2004 (and lost the Belmont by a length), sounds best when it's coming out of the mouth of an Irishman. All together now: "Smar-tey Jones."

4. Mister Frisky

Great horses should be frisky. And that makes Mister Frisky a good name for a horse. Throw in the double entendres for humans, and you get a great name. Mister Frisky finished third in the 1990 Preakness and eighth in the Kentucky Derby (where he was favored to win).

3. Demons Begone

This is one of those rare names that not only identifies the horse, but also tricks race announcers into clearing any paranormal hurdles that might be in the horse's way. Unfortunately for Demons Begone, his problems were distinctly physical. He was the favorite in 1987 Kentucky Derby, but didn't finish the race after bleeding from his nostrils.

2. Atswhatimtalknbout

This 2003 Derby contender (he finished fourth) is a track announcer's dream horse. In addition to being a condensed version of "That's What I'm Talking About," this son of A.P. Indy and grandson of Seatle Slew had Hollywood connections. It's ownership group that included Steven Spielberg, Gary Ross and Frank Ross.

1. Upset

When the name of a horse changes the course of both the English language and sports journalism, you get a winner -- and a well deserved spot at the top of this list. Here's the story...

In the history of American racing, two horses stand clearly above the rest -- Man o' War and Secretariat. Man o' War, nicknamed Big Red, was a magnificent horse with a fiery personality. He was bigger, stronger and faster than every horse he raced against and he only lost one race in his illustrious career. And his conqueror that day was Upset. In the 1919 Sanford Memorial Stakes, an error by his jockey (or the starter, depending on who you talk to) had Man o' War with his back to the starting line when the race started. By the time he had turned around, the field had opened up a sizeable lead on Man o' War. But, champion that he was, Man o' War charged into the fray and tried to win the race. Unfortunately, the finish line came a half-length to early, and he finished in second. The victor? It was none other than Upset. After skipping the Derby, Man o' War avenged his loss to Upset with a victory in the Preakness (Upset finished third). Man o' War also won the Belmont by 20 lengths. But it is Upset who has had an enduring impact on our language and society with the word upset being used whenever an underdog beats a a favorite.

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