The naming of Thoroughbreds is a complicated, time-consuming business, but it can be fun. This year's crop of Kentucky Derby horses is no exception. Think Bond girls, bordellos and bank robbers.
Devil May Care, for example, the only filly in the race, is named for the latest James Bond franchise novel because her owner, John Greathouse, is a huge Bond fan. He already had named another filly Honey Ryder, the first Bond girl. But as Greathouse said, the sages at the Jockey Club — which registers and must approve all Thoroughbred names — probably wouldn't approve of another Bond girl, Pussy Galore.
"We've had fun with it," Greathouse said. "She's a big strapping girl and won't give any quarter to the boys."
Jerry Crawford, the owner of Paddy O'Prado, also ran into trouble with the Jockey Club. He wanted to play around with the name of the colt's dam, Fun House. So he submitted Bordello. No go.
"The esteemed officials at the Jockey Club said no," Crawford said, which is unusual, considering some of the names they have approved, including Mike Pegram's horse Isitingood.
So Crawford turned to the sire, El Prado. Crawford and his partner have Irish roots, and Paddy O'Prado seemed like "a fun name, like he'd be a fun guy."
As for bank robbers, that's the basis of HomeboyKris' name, according to one of his owners, Louis Lazzinnaro. One of his friends witnessed a bank robbery in Florida in which the getaway driver got bored and decided to go get a coffee at Starbucks. When the thwarted robbers came out, their driver, Kris, was running for his life. "Look at that homeboy go," one of the robbers allegedly said, and Lazzinnaro hopes to be saying the same thing on Saturday.
The favorite, Lookin At Lucky, was christened with champagne, as it were. Co-owners Paul Weitman and Pegram were at a charity affair at Del Mar in California, toasting their unbelievable successes over the years. They made a toast, Weitman recalls, "Here's to looking at lucky!" That's when Pegram said: "I think we just named our 2-year-old."
There are two poignant names in the bunch. Noble's Promise is named for another horse, Noble Asset, which was owned by Chasing Dreams Racing, a group of local owners. Noble Asset was hurt and had to be euthanized; Noble's Promise is just that, sent out to finish what Noble Asset could not.
Then there's Stately Victor, which honors a law student named Victor Perrone who was the best friend of Attorney General Jack Conway, a co-owner of the horse. Perrone was killed in a car wreck at age 23.
Some of the big barns have employee contests to name horses. That's the case for Super Saver, one of Winstar's horses. Racing manager Elliott Walden said the other, American Lion, is named after either Teddy Roosevelt or the recent biography of Andrew Jackson, he wasn't sure which.
Peter Blum turned to Ireland to name Dublin, mostly because nearly everyone at Dromoland Farm, where the colt lives, is from that country.
"It was the only name I really ever thought about for that colt," he said.
Conveyance's name came after numerous turn-downs from the Jockey Club, said Omar Trevino of Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, who manages the horse for Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. At a meeting with some of their bankers and lawyers, someone suggested the legal term "conveyance." It worked. .
Others stick with families.
Line of David is not a religious name, owner Ike Thrash said. The colt is named for Thrash's son-in-law. He tried for Lion of David, but it was rejected. Dean's Kitten is named for Ken Ramsey's sister-in-law.
Many people stayed with the tried-and-true method of working off the sire's and dams' names. Discreetly Mine is sired by Mineshaft out of Pretty Discreet.
■ Awesome Act: The son of Awesome Again out of Houdini's Honey. Get it? Houdini performed escape acts.
■ Backtalk: A riff on his sire's name, Smarty Jones.
■ Ice Box might have the most literal name. Sandy Reichard, whose husband, Ernie, is the racing manager for owner Robert La Penta, said the name came from taking the "ice" from the dam's name, Spice Island, and using the sire's name, Pulpit, a kind of box.
■ Jackson Bend: A takeoff from the breeders, Jacks or Better Farm.
■ Make Music for Me: Sired by Bernstein, a horse named for famed conductor Leonard Bernstein.
■ Mission Impazible: Taken from the dam's name, La Paz.
■ Sidney's Candy: Named for his sire, Candy Ride, and his late owner, Sidney Craig. Ironic because Sidney's widow, Jenny, is famous for her weight-loss program.