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Swift Stallions: Rating the Names of Horses in the 2021 Kentucky Derby

Every year, the Kentucky Derby takes place at Church Hill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The renowned event serves as not only a moment to watch some amazing horses race, but it is also “a celebration of Southern culture and a true icon of Americana.” As a result, millions of people—horse lovers or not—tune in to watch some of America’s most outstanding horses run a mile at a brisk and exhilarating pace.


However, the Kentucky Derby is known as more than just an important event for the most prestigious members of the horse community. It is also prominent for its quirky and unusually named horses, which is my purpose for writing today’s article. In preparation for the Kentucky Derby on May 1, I will be ranking the names of the 20 participating horses solely based on my own opinions and the connotations brought about by each of them.


20. Medina Spirit

I’m not sure what this is trying to portray, but it isn’t working for me. Who is Medina and why is their spirit important? I appreciate their attempt to be allusive, but it left me with too many questions.


19. Crowded Trade

This name brings about thoughts of chaos and overpopulation, which makes it challenging for me to imagine this to be a fast horse. How can they worry about running fast when their space is too crowded? Hopefully things mellow out and they can simply think about winning, but until then... I don’t think it’s in this guy’s cards to be the winner.


18. Caddo River

After some research, I found that this is a river in Arkansas. I appreciate the local ties but it seems to be a fairly insignificant river, which makes me think this is also an insignificant horse. Maybe there is some personal importance to this name, but to me, that doesn’t mean much.


17. Mandaloun

A short Google search showed me that a mandaloun is an Arabic term meaning “mullioned window.” Why would they ever name their horse after a pane of glass? I have no idea, but it leads me to think we’ll look right through them to see the real winner.


16. Sainthood

Although I love how they’re trying to hype themselves up here, it just seems like they’re a bit too cocky. Calling yourself a saint really makes me think that you’re not a saint. I may be wrong, but it seems like this angel won’t be flying to the front of the pack on race day.


15. Like a King

This name gives me vibes quite similar to the last one––it’s too arrogant and self-serving. Run the race and then we’ll decide who’s the real king.


14. Concert Tour

This name—which seems irrelevant in relation to the sport—makes it seem as if this horse was a born musician but forced into athletics by his owner. I’m glad he was able to retain some of his identity in his name, but I hope he can return to his true passions soon.


13. Dynamic One

The vagueness of this name left me both intrigued and questioning. I’m wondering how this horse is so dynamic. Sure, they can run fast and turn left, but what other talents do they possess: painting, gymnastics, perhaps even photography? This name is such a conversation starter and leaves me wanting to learn more about this horse and his life’s passions.


12. Dream Shake

Although this is an interesting name, it also made me question the safety of this horse... let me explain. When I imagine a “dream shake,” I picture a milkshake that is out-of-this-world amazing. This leads me to wonder whether this horse is delicious as well. I hope his owners aren’t thinking the same thing.


11. Essential Quality

I love the effort at making this horse feel important, but it left me with more questions than answers. What is the essential quality: the ability to run fast? There is so much more to life than athletics––I hope someday someone will see this horse for something more than his running ability because I’m sure he’s a great guy on the inside too.


10. Super Stock

The versatile use of the word “stock” left me wondering what definition we were referring to when using this name. At first I thought of a stock car like at a race track––which could mean he is fast––but I also thought of stock groceries at the store, which isn’t all that glamorous of a pursuit. I also thought of the stock of a gun, which is the back part; this left me wondering whether Super Stock would be rounding out the back of the pack. Either way, there isn’t much hope for this guy.


9. Known Agenda

It seems pretty obvious that this name is alluding to their agenda to win, but I wish there was a bit more substance to the name. Everyone who has an actual personality knows that winning isn’t everything, so why would they portray that winning is the only thing? Of course I’m only kidding, but I think there could’ve been a bit more creativity in the naming process of this horse.


8. Midnight Bourbon

Although I love the mystical connotations of this name, it also leaves me with some questions. I can imagine it would be quite difficult to win one of the most important races in the horse racing industry under the influence of alcohol, so I hope they take that into consideration before the race. That, coupled with the darkness of midnight, could make it challenging for Midnight Bourbon to lead the pack.


7. Highly Motivated

Much like Known Agenda, this name is solely interested in winning. Although I would also love to win thousands of dollars, I think there is so much more to the personality of this horse. But, then again, maybe I could be interpreting this wrong––maybe he’s just a food-motivated horse. If I was a horse, I know I would be.


6. Hidden Stash

At first, I was a bit confused about why they’re hiding money in this horse, but then I thought more about the name and realized that the actual hidden stash is his hidden energy and speed. Even when the other horses are running on all cylinders, Hidden Stash has a little more left in the tank to help him rise above the competition.


5. Rock Your World

This name is definitely flashy––a show-stopper––but it is a bit unsettling for me. The connotations to his word can be a bit…dicey and made me think that I definitely don’t want a horse rocking my world.


4. Bourbonic

Much like Midnight Bourbon, this name left me questioning their sobriety. The similarities between the two names also left me wondering whether they are related or simply have copy-cat owners. Either way, individuality is not their strong suit. Nonetheless, I preferred this over the name Midnight Bourbon for no reason other than it sounded cooler, and that’s justifiable enough.


3. Hot Rod Charlie

I quite readily enjoy the fact that this is the only name that actually has a name in it. Not only that but coupled with the word “hot rod,” it makes me feel like my guy Charlie is actually quite fast. Not only that, but it made me imagine a horse revving their engine and that just made me giggle––seriously, you should try it.


2. Helium

I love the randomness and simplicity of this name. Similar to the last one, it made me laugh out loud as I imagined a horse flying as it is filled with helium. Along with that, I also thought that Helium would be flying through the pack all the way to the finish line, which makes me think he’s a real contender.


1. Soup and Sandwich

This name is the number one for me because it makes me feel like this horse is the real deal––the whole package, an entire meal. All of these make me think he has what it takes to take first in the upcoming race. Not only that, but his name is cute, random and comedic, which are all winning qualities in my book.


I hope you enjoyed this analysis of the horses racing in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Although Essential Quality is expected to win with 3-1 odds, I’ll be cheering for Soup and Sandwich in hopes that he completes his all-inclusive package with a win. Be sure to tune in on May 1 and cheer for your favorite fast fillies.


Brianna Strohbehn is a junior at Winona State University and a small-town girl from central Iowa. Brianna is studying English, double majoring in writing and applied and professional writing with hopes of someday becoming an editor at a publishing firm. When she isn't writing, Brianna enjoys thrifting, reading, exploring her new home in Winona, and spending time with family and friends.
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