Whose Name Will Make History?

When the horses competing in this year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) got their names, they had only their pedigree, personality, and their owners' personalities to create for them the perfect title. Here are explanations behind the names given to many of this year's contenders:

Atswhatimtalknbout -- Bob Feld, one of owner B. Wayne Hughes' advisors, explained how this colt got his name.

"A friend of mine was using the expression last year and I started using it myself. When we went to the sale in Florida (in 2002), Mr. Hughes picked up on it. When this horse would come out, we'd use that, and he ended up buying him. We were out at dinner that night, and Wayne used the expression a couple times during dinner so I said, 'that's what we should name that colt.' I pulled out a business card and started figuring out how we'd spell it because to fully spell it out uses 23 letters (The Jockey Club maximum is 18.), so I had to take off five letters."

Buddy Gil -- Breeders and co-owners Donnie and Judy McFadden named the horse after Tom Gilmer, the friend of one of Donnie's college classmates.

Brancusi -- Owner Michael Tabor often turns to the arts as inspiration for naming his horses. Among his other runners named along those lines are Fasliyev, Mayakovsky, and Stravinsky. Constantin Brancusi was a Romanian sculptor who trained initially as a carpenter and stonemason. He settled in Paris in 1904 where his early influences included African as well as oriental art.

Empire Maker -- Whenever Prince Khalid Abdullah names a new crop of horses, he solicits help from his employees at his farms in Kentucky and Europe. As a result, while it was a group effort, no one is sure exactly who recommended the title Empire Maker. According to farm manager Garrett O'Rourke, since the colt has done so well, about five different employees at Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky think that suggestion might have been on their list.

Evolving Tactics -- Jillian Nevin, the secretary at owner/breeder Walter Haefner's Moyglare Stud is in charge of naming the outfit's 30-40 horses each year.

"We pick the names out of fashion magazines, financial newspapers, and books," said Nevin. "You see two words and think, 'that would make a nice name.' That's the way we name all the horses. It's easy enough to get horses' names approved in England and Ireland, but because a percentage of our horses end up with Christophe Clement, I also get approval from the American Jockey Club, which is harder."

Funny Cide is one of many horses to come by his name through his pedigree. He is the son of Distorted Humor and Belle's Good Cide.

Kafwain -- Kafwain was named by the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman, whose Thoroughbred Corp. purchased the colt last year at auction. Kafwain means "doubly strong" in Arabic. "He came up with the name just for this horse because he was such a strong colt," said Thoroughbred Corp.'s Richard Mulhall.

Lone Star Sky owner Walter New explained he got the horse's name by starting with his sire, Conquistador Cielo.

"He is by Conquistador Cielo, so I got the "Sky" from him. The Conquistadors were Spanish commanders and explorers, and the conquistador Coronado explored a large part of West Texas which is where I grew up, so the Lone Star State and the Lone Star Sky came together out of Conquistador Cielo."

Minister's Wild Cat is a son of Deputy Minister and Hollywood Wildcat, making his name a pretty simple case of combining pedigrees.

Offlee Wild -- This son of Wild Again got his name, in part, from his sire. His owners, including Azalea Stable principal Landsdon Robbins III, decided to spell "awfully" with a little flair, then added wild to his title.

Peace Rules--Breeder Ronald Chak named this horse before he sold him. Initially, the name Rules was submitted by Chak and accepted by The Jockey Club, but it was later rescinded, so he added Peace to the title, making him a 2003 hunch bet.

Scrimshaw The word scrimshaw is a carved or engraved article made originally by North American whalers from the teeth and bones of whales or walruses. Beverly Lewis, who handles the naming duties for horses owned by her and her husband, Bob, said there isn't much connection between the word and the horse, except that she liked both of them enough to put them together.

"There's not much connection between a horse and a whale," said Lewis. "I like the name, and it wasn't taken.

"When our two younger children were in school on Vancouver Island, we took a cruise through Alaska, and that's where we saw scrimshaw, so without that trip I wouldn't have thought of the name.

"We have a number of horses to name and this one just happened to be Scrimshaw and happened to be a good horse."

Sir Cherokee -- Kenneth Jones, the owner of Domino Stud and thus owner and breeder of Sir Cherokee, named the Cherokee Run colt. Caroline Frazier, general manager at Domino, said originally he wanted to name the colt Cherokee Warrior, but that was not available. Instead, Jones added Sir. Jones also races horses in Australia, where it is apparently very common to have Sir in horses' names.

Ten Cents a Shine -- Owner Ken Ramsey has a story for every horse he names. For this one he called on his childhood, when he would shine shoes for spending money.

Ten Most Wanted -- Ten Most Wanted got his name not from his current owners (although co-owner Mike Jarvis named his sire, Deputy Commander), but from Cheryl Miller, the office manager at Old Frankfort Stud where Ten Most Wanted was foaled. The nursery is owned by Jim Plemmons, who is the breeder of record of this colt. Miller got involved with the naming process and initially suggested On the Run Again, but that name was not available.

"My line of thinking was about bandits," said Miller. "I tried outlaws and different things, and they were already taken, so through the course of conversation I think maybe Jim suggested "most wanted" and so next we tried Ten Most Wanted, and that's how we came up with it."

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