The oddest horse names in Kentucky Derby history

April 19th, 2021

Naming a horse can be surprisingly tricky. You can’t use offensive terms, you can’t use the name of an actual person without written permission, and it can’t be more than 18 characters.

Luckily, there are a number of weird and wonderful horse names that have made it to the biggest stage of all. Here are the 10 best in Kentucky Derby history.

10. Mucho Macho Man

A horse named after the 1978 Village People hit "Macho Man," which peaked at number 25 in the Billboard Hot 100. The horse was just as good as the song, finishing third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and going on to win the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic in an absolute thriller.

If the name wasn’t cool enough, he was known as Lazarus when he was born because he appeared lifeless when foaled, only to spontaneously revive himself.

9. Atswhatimtalknbout

From Starsky and Hutch to Batman, and Men In Black to Kangaroo Jack – "That’s what I’m talking about" has been uttered in plenty of Hollywood blockbusters. The horse himself finished fourth in the 2003 running of the Kentucky Derby for jockey David Flores and trainer Ronald Ellis.

He pocketed $45,000 for finishing in the top four – Now that’s what I’m talking about!

8. Imawildandcrazyguy

This particular horse was named after the hit 1978 album by comedian Steve Martin entitled, A Wild and Crazy Guy. Martin went on to host Saturday Night Live 15 times (second only to Alec Baldwin) and appear in plenty of films including Three Amigos, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and Cheaper by the Dozen.

The horse didn’t perform too badly either, finishing fourth at odds of 28.90 in 2007.

7. Any Given Saturday

A few places behind Imawildandcrazyguy in 2007 was Any Given Saturday for trainer Todd Pletcher. The horse, which was named after the popular sports film Any Given Sunday, finished eighth. 

Life is a game of inches, Al Pacino tells us in that movie's famous pre-match team talk, and a win simply wasn't in the cards for his Miami Sharks or Any Given Saturday.

6. The Winner

Not much of a backstory here, but a huge shoutout to this horse owned by William Wallace 125 years ago. The balls on an owner to be so confident in his horse’s ability he names him "The Winner" clearly is going to get my admiration.

Unfortunately, in the 1986 running of the Kentucky Derby, The Winner was not the winner. In fact, he came second last.

5. Pistols and Roses

A mash-up of two of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, the Sex Pistols and Guns N’ Roses. The Pistols’ "God Save The Queen" remains the most heavily censored song in British history, and the band and their one and only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, is considered one of the most groundbreaking albums of all-time.

36 years since forming, Guns N’ Roses are incredibly still touring with Axl Rose and Slash. "The most dangerous band in the world" have sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Pistols and Roses finished a disappointing 16th in the 1992 Derby, which is certainly not a rock and roll result.

4. Burgoo King

The 1932 Kentucky Derby winner Burgoo King is not to be confused with the Burger King – as those delicious Whoppers did not come into existence until 1953. 20 years earlier it was all about burgoo, a stew traditionally made with whatever meat and vegetables are available. Back in the day, that could have included racoons, squirrels, or possum!

Burgoo King put in a seriously tasty performance in 1932, as he won the Kentucky Derby by three lengths and then went on to win the Preakness Stakes as well.

3. Mister Frisky

A legend in Puerto Rico, Mister Frisky had won 16 consecutive races when he lined up in the 1990 Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, he could only finish eighth, but that didn’t stop him going into the Puerto Rican Hall of Fame. His name is probably as risky as it’s going to get with the Jockey Club.

2. Palace Malice

Basketball fans won’t need reminding of the clash between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons in Michigan. What started with a fairly meaningless shove from Ron Artest on Ben Wallace, turned into the most infamous brawl in NBA history. Fans and players alike got into it, and the game was abandoned with 46 left on the clock and the Pacers up by 15 points. Nine players were suspended by the NBA for a total of 146 games, costing them $11 million. Five of the players were charged with assault, as were five fans.

Palace Malice didn’t put up much of a fight, as he finished 12th in 2013 at odds of 20-1.

1. Afternoon Deelites

Named after the 1976 song "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band, plenty of Anchorman fans will recognize the tune, but may not know that it topped the Billboard Hot 100 back in the 1970s and even won a Grammy.

Unfortunately, the horse was less successful in the 1995 running of the Kentucky Derby, finishing eighth in the race won by Thunder Gulch.