Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's In A Name?

Just in case you missed it, for the first time since 2008 and the fourth time this century, the racing world has a chance to see the elusive Triple Crown come out of storage on June 9. Not since Affirmed in 1978 has a horse worn the racing crown with 11 horses trying the feat and falling short in that time.

But just like every horse, this year's challenger has it's doubters. However, one bizarre reason that some people believe I'll Have Another shouldn't win the Triple Crown is his name.

Trust me, I'm all for a strongly named horse. After all, I feel that an animal's name affects its personality, but looking back at past Triple Crown winners makes me wonder what these detractors would have said in the past when others were going for the three jewels. 

Perhaps the most well known Triple Crown winner, and one that dominated every leg of the challenge, is named Secretariat. Sure, it sounds royal now but how many people know the actual definition of the name?

Secretariat:
  1. A permanent administrative office or department, esp. a governmental one

  2. The staff working in such an office
Another winner of the Triple Crown is Omaha, named for a town in Nebraska. You also have Seattle Slew who, like Secretariat, has a royal sounding name now because of his accomplishments. But would anyone have really pegged him as a Triple Crown winner off his name alone in 1977? Probably not.

I'll Have Another, otherwise known as "Cookie", leads normal people to believe he's named after a night at the bar like last year's Belmont second place finisher Stay Thirsty. But the horse is instead named for his owner's love of his wife's cookies. Perhaps with either story, his name doesn't sound awesome but just think about it for a second.

I'll Have Another can stand for many different things, including winning races. Not only has it given to some nifty slogans during the Triple Crown Trail, it has also given a new spin to the hope that maybe the horse can win the Triple Crown. His name doesn't imply that he's a one and done (or two and done in this case) type of horse. Instead, it pushes people to believe in the next challenge. In this case, winning the challenge may be the small nudge that racing needs to survive for a few more years.

Looking back on past Triple Crown winners, and hopefuls, I can think of many different names that would look much worse on the trophy he will be presented if he does pull off the improbable. Heck, he may even rate close to the top of good name lists in the future when people look back on this moment.

I know some people don't want the horse to win for a magnitude of reasons, but give the horse some respect. If you are going to come up with reasons to cheer against him, give him more credit than saying his name doesn't fit with those that have won. That's not just an insult to the sport, but an insult to the racing gods that have put our past champions on there as well.

If I'll Have Another does win, then not only will his name look good on the trophy, it will also look good to those that may find a connection to the sport due to a little chestnut named after his owner's love of cookies.

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