Kentucky Derby 2017: Ranking the horses by name

May 3, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Derby hopeful Fast and Accurate exercises during morning workouts at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Kentucky Derby hopeful Fast and Accurate exercises during morning workouts at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports /
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Rankings of each horse in the 2017 Kentucky Derby by best name.

The Kentucky Derby is upon us and a new group of strange, funny, and amazing horse names are here.

Naming a thoroughbred is a tricky business. Not only does it need to be catchy and awesome sounding when a trainer or fans use it, but it has to adhere to a very specific set of guidelines decided upon by The Jockey Club. Why do these rules exist? They exist for the very simple reason of avoiding confusion in the racing and thoroughbred breeding industry.

The rules of naming a thoroughbred horse

Rule No. 1: Names can only contain 18 letters. Punctuation and spaces do count as letters.

Rule No. 2: The name cannot consist of initials, but can include initials.

Rule No. 3: The name cannot have commercial, artistic, or creative significance (you can’t turn your horse into a brand).

Rule No. 4: The name cannot be vulgar or suggestive in any way, shape, or form.

Rule No. 5: The name cannot be considered in poor taste and disparaging of any race, groups, religions or individuals.

Rule No. 6: The name cannot be the name of a living person unless The Jockey Club is given specific permissions to use that name.

Rule No. 7: The name cannot end in any horse related lingo including but not limited to Filly, Colt, Stud, Mare, Stallion and Bronco.

Rule No. 8: The name cannot be made entirely out of numbers. Numbers above thirty can be used, but must be spelled out.

Rule No. 9: Names cannot be based on numerical placement such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.

Rule No. 10: The names cannot include the name of racetrack or stakes race such as the Belmont or the Preakness.

Rule No. 11: The name cannot be from the restricted and permanent names list, which you can find here

Now that you know the official rules, let’s get into our very unofficial rankings of 2017 Kentucky Derby horse names.

20. State of Honor

This is a legacy name as the horse’s sire was known as To Honor and Serve. I get the legacy thing, but this name just bores me.  The horse’s name doesn’t even really match its story as it hasn’t yet been a big winner and brought a state of honor to its owners.  Unfortunately for State of Honor, he gets last place in this illustrious contest of horse names.

19. Lookin at Lee

This name is yet another legacy name and it seems just as cocky as the horses sire’s name (Lookin at Lucky). It just assumes that everyone is looking at the dang horse because it’s a winner. Also what’s the deal with only using ‘lookin’ instead of looking? It’s not like that name is exceptionally long and is going to go over the character limit. It feels like just another attempt to be edgy and cool.

18. Tapwrit

Tapwrit is a name that was chosen because the horses’ sire was known as Tapit. I appreciate the legacy naming here but it does nothing for me. It’s also hard to pronounce and comes off the tongue too strong. Maybe that is fitting because Tapwrit is known as a strong finisher in his races.

17. Battle of Midway

Battle of Midway just seems far too cruel because Midway is the second-fiddle airport in the Chicagoland area. At least name him Battle of O’Hare. It’s way more of a battle getting through security there than it is at Midway.

Jokes aside, this name is lent from a battle in the Pacific during World War 2. American planes fought off the Japanese who tried to invade the Midway Islands. I like history as much as the next guy, but this is just a strange name for a horse.