51 Of The Best Kentucky Derby Horse Names (Of All Time)

If you’re looking for Kentucky Derby horse naming ideas, then this blog post is for you!

Kentucky Derby Day is the most exciting day of the year in Kentucky. It’s a time to come together and celebrate these majestic creatures that make us so proud.

Whether it’s your childhood pet or favorite Kentucky bourbon, all Kentucky residents have their own personal connection with horses.

This blog post includes 51 Kentucky Derby horse names that are perfect for inspiration if you need some help coming up with a name for your next racehorse.

Kentucky Derby Racehorse

1. Any Given Saturday (2007)

Any Given Saturday finished eighth at the 2007 Kentucky Derby. He was sired by the horse Distorted Humor.

2. Vagrant (1876)

Vagrant was a famous racehorse who won the Kentucky Derby in 1876. He was the first gelding to win the Kentucky Derby.

He was sired by the horses Virgil and Lazy. After the Kentucky Derby, he was used as a saddlehorse on Long Island for many years.

3. Marine Victory (1946)

20 AMAZING HORSE FACTS x
20 AMAZING HORSE FACTS

Marine Victory was a racehorse that was named in tribute of the United States’ recent victory in World War II. Unfortunately, Marine Victory did not fare as well as the U.S. Marines did, and only finished in 15th place, out of 17 horses in the race.

4. Old Rosebud (1914)

Old Rosebud was one of the most successful racehorses of the 20th century, and he was actually sired by Eclipse, another influential racehorse. Old Rosebud’s life was cut short though when he had a fatal injury while participating in another race after the Kentucky Derby.

5. Native Dancer (1953)

Native Dancer was nicknamed “the Gray Ghost” and he became one of the first racehorses in American history to become famous on TV. Although he won the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, Native Dancer fell short of a Triple Crown by losing the Kentucky Derby.

Losing the Kentucky Derby was the only defeat of Native Dancer’s career.

6. Cherry Pie (1923)

What’s more American than horse racing and Cherry Pie? Unfortunately, Cherry Pie didn’t do so hot in the Kentucky Derby.

Cherry Pie was one of twenty one horses racing in the Kentucky Derby and he came in 20th place.

7. Sea Trek (1988)

In 1988 Sea Trek won the Rebel Stakes, a lesser-known horse racing event. Unfortunately, this success didn’t last.

Sea Trek finished in dead last place in the 1988 Kentucky Derby.

8. Foolish Pleasure (1975)

Foolish Pleasure is most famous for winning the 1975 Kentucky Derby. Foolish Pleasure was expected to win the Triple Crown but he narrowly lost The Preakness and was a runner-up in the Belmont Stakes.

9. Baffling (1924)

In 1924 Baffling entered the Kentucky Derby with jockey George W. Carroll. Baffling raced bafflingly poorly in the race, coming in 17th place out of 19 racehorses.

10. His Excellency (1900)

His Excellency was a horse that raced in the 1900 Kentucky Derby, ridden by a jockey named Gilmore. His Excellency finished in 5th place, out of only 7 horses. There was an unusually small number of horses running that year.

11. Groovy (1986)

Groovy and his jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. finished dead last at the 1986 Kentucky Derby. Despite this loss, Groovy lived a long life and was famous for loving to eat jelly donuts.

Groovy also came from a long line of racehorse royalty. He was sired by Tinnitus and Norcliffe. Norcliffe herself was sired by Buckpasser, who is in the U.S. Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

12. Deputy Warlock (2000)

Deputy Warlock raced in the 2000 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named Mark Guidry. They didn’t win, but they did fairly well, finishing in 10th place out of 19 horses.

13. Die Hard (1959)

Unrelated to the Bruce Willis action movie, Die Hard is a racehorse that competed in the 1959 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named Johnny Sellers. They finished in 16th place out of 17th horses.

14. Harry Gilmore (1882)

In the 8th annual running of the Kentucky Derby, Harry Gilmore was a horse that finished in 4th place. Harry Gilmore was ridden by a jockey named Gibbs.

15. Uncle Luther (1930)

Uncle Luther was a racehorse who finished in 7th place out of 15 horses. Uncle Luther was ridden by a jockey named Robert Creese.

16. Warren G. (1958)

There were 14 horses in the 1958 Kentucky Derby and Warren G finished dead last, in 14th place. Warren G was ridden by a jockey named Kenneth Church.

17. Michael Angelo (1909)

Michael Angelo did better than some of the other horses on this list. He didn’t quite win the derby, but he was in the middle of the pack.

With a jockey named George Taplin, Michael Angelo finished in 7th place out of 10 horses in the 1909 Kentucky Derby.

18. Rumbo (1980)

Rumbo almost won the 1980 Kentucky Derby. With legendary jockey Laffit Pincay Jr., Rumbo finished in 2nd place out of 13 horses.

The only horse to beat Rumbo in the Kentucky Derby was the ironically named horse Genuine Risk.

19. Impeachment (2000)

Impeachment is another horse with a memorable name that didn’t quite win, but came pretty close. Impeachment and jockey Craig Perret managed to come in 3rd place out of 19 horses.

20. Hasty Road (1954)

Hasty Road was ridden by a jockey named Johnny Adams. Hasty Road is yet another horse on this list with a cool name that just barely missed a Kentucky Derby victory.

Hasty Road managed to finish in 2nd Place out of 17 horses that entered the race that year.

21. Burgoo King (1932)

Burgoo King has nothing to do with Burger King, he was actually named after a popular type of stew called burgoo. Burgoo King was one of the most successful racehorses on this list.

Along with his jockey Eugene James, Burgoo King actually managed to win the Kentucky Derby. He finished in 1st place out of 20 horses.

22. War (1987)

You’ve heard of a warhorse but have you ever heard of a horse named War? War and his jockey Herb McCauley weren’t terribly successful at the Kentucky Derby.

They finished 13th out of 17 horses that entered the derby in 1987. One of those horses did not even manage to finish without getting hurt.

23. Wool Sandals (1907)

The 1907 Kentucky Derby was held shortly after a violent rainstorm and the track was largely reduced to mud. Wool Sandals was one of only 6 horses that entered the derby that year.

24. Sherluck (1961)

Sherluck is one of the racehorses on this list who actually did manage to win the entire Kentucky Derby. This historic victory is especially notable because it stopped Carry Back from winning the Triple Crown that year.

25. Carpe Diem (2015)

Carpe Diem was one of 18 racehorses that entered the Kentucky Derby in 2015. Out of those 18 horses, Carpe Diem and his jockey, John Velazquez managed to finish in 10th place overall.

26. Domestic Dispute (2003)

Domestic Dispute was one of the horses in the controversial 2003 Kentucky Derby. He was ridden by a jockey named Alex Solis, and they finished in 10th place out of 16 horses.

27. Sun Fairplay (1935)

Sun Fairplay is a horse that raced in the 1935 Kentucky Derby. Sun Fairplay raced with jockey Sam Renick, finishing in 11th place.

28. Bourbon (1903)

Bourbon raced with a jockey named Richard Crowhurst. They finished in 3rd place in the 1903 Kentucky Derby.

29. Hello (1997)

Hello raced in the 1997 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named Mike Smith. They finished in 8th place out of 13 horses.

30. Double Jay (1947)

Double Jay raced in the 1947 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named John Gilbert. He was considered a long shot to win and only finished in 12th place out of 13 horses. Double Jay was not invited to participate in the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes.

31. Festival King (1959)

Festival King is a racehorse that ran in the 1959 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named William Carstens. Festival King managed to finish in a respectable 11th place, out of 17 horses in the race.

32. Surprising (1914)

Is it surprising that a horse named Surprising was racing in the Kentucky Derby? Not as surprising as it is that Surprising beat a horse named Watermelon.

Surprising was ridden by a jockey named Charles Peak.

33. West by West (1992)

West by West is one of the most unique names on this list. They raced in the crowded 1992 Kentucky Derby with famous jockey Jean-Luc Sarnyn. They finished in 11th place out of 18 horses.

34. Careful (1921)

1921 was the 47th running of the Kentucky Derby and it featured a horse named Careful. Careful was ridden by a jockey named Frank Keogh. Keogh’s careful riding snagged them a 5th place finish.

35. Elwood (1904)

Elwood won the 1904 Kentucky Derby, but he is most famous for being the first horse owned and bred by a woman to ever win the Kentucky Derby. Elwood raced with a jockey named Frank Prior.

36. Regret (1915)

Ironically, Regret actually managed to win the Kentucky Derby. Regret is also famous because she was the first female racehorse to ever win the Kentucky Derby.

This has made her go down as one of the most famous racehorses in history.

37. Top Avenger (1981)

Top Avenger finished 19th in the 1981 Kentucky Derby. Top Avenger was ridden by a famous jockey named Larry Snyder.

38. Mister Frisky (1990)

Mister Frisky raced in the 1990 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named Gary Stevens. Mister Frisky was mildly successful as a racehorse and was retired into stud duty.

After his racing career, Mister Frisky sired several prominent racehorses.

39. Pistols and Roses (1992)

Racing against another name on this list, West by West, Pistols and Roses entered the 1992 Kentucky Derby with a rider named Jacinto Vasquez.

Unfortunately, Pistols and Roses didn’t do as well as West by West or most of the other horses in the race. Pistols and Roses finished in 16th place out of 18 horses.

A great naming idea that has similarities to The Kentucky Derbys second name “The Run for the Roses”.

40. Palace Malice (2013)

Palace Malice has one of the most fun names on this list. Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes but only managed to finish in 12th place out of 19 horses at the Kentucky Derby.

Palace Malice was ridden by Mike E. Smith.

41. Viva America (1918)

This is another patriotic name that was directly inspired by America’s war efforts. World War I was raging when Viva America raced in the 1918 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named William Warrington.

42. Billionaire (1937)

Despite a name that should be worth a billion bucks, Billionaire didn’t fare so well at the Kentucky Derby. In the 1937 derby, Billionaire finished in 20th place, dead last.

Billionaire was ridden by a jockey named George Woolf.

43. Black Panther (1927)

The 1927 Kentucky Derby was the 53rd anniversary of the derby. Black Panther finished in 10th place with a jockey named Louis Schaefer.

44. Clever Trevor (1989)

Clever Trevor is probably one of the most clever names on this list. Unfortunately, Clever Trevor wasn’t clever enough to figure out a way to better than finishing in 13th place out of 15 horses.

Clever Trevor was ridden by jockey Don Pettinger.

45. Sky Guy (1966)

Sky Guy was a racehorse who raced in the 1966 Kentucky Derby while being ridden by a famous jockey named Larry Adams. They finished in 10th place out of 15 horses.

46. Whopper (1935)

Long before Burger King came out with their famous sandwich, Whopper raced in the 1935 Kentucky Derby. Whopper was ridden by a jockey named Charles Landolt.

Whopper finished in 13th place out of 18 total horses in the race.

47. Tomy Lee (1959)

Tomy Lee is one of the most famous horses to ever compete in the Kentucky Derby, ridden by equally famous jockey Bill Shoemaker. Tomy Lee is not just famous for winning the Kentucky Derby, but for being one of the only non-American horses to win.

Tomy Lee was bred in Britain.

48. Macbeth II (1888)

Named in tribute to the William Shakespeare play, Macbeth II was one of the most successful horses to ever win the Kentucky Derby. Macbeth II won the derby in 1888 with jockey George Covington.

49. Quasimodo (1934)

Quasimodo raced in the 1934 Kentucky Derby with a jockey named J.H. James Burke. They finished in 13th place.

50. Bold Chapeau (1975)

In the 1975 Kentucky Derby, Bold Chapeau competed against another name on this list: Foolish Pleasure. Bold Chapeau finished in 8th place in the 1975 derby with jockey C. Joseph Alleman.

51. Medina Spirit (2021)

Medina spirit won the 2021 Kentucky Derby. He was a thoroughbred racehorse who was well known for his speed.

This horse was named after the city of Medina, Ohio, which is where his breeder, Darley Stud Management, is headquartered.

Medina spirit was the winner of three consecutive races leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

This horse’s name is perfect for a racehorse because it has great meaning and matches his success!

Horse Name Inspiration

Here are a few more names of racehorses that have run in the Race of the Roses:

  • Soup and Sandwich
  • Essential Quality
  • American Pharoah
  • Rock Your World
  • California Chrome
  • Highly Motivated

Conclusion

Kentucky Derby horse names are a Kentucky tradition. Whether you’re looking for inspiration on your next Kentucky derby racehorse or just want to commemorate the Kentucky Derby Day, these 51 Kentucky derby horse names should help spark some creativity in naming your favorite four-legged friend!

If you are still struggling to find a good name for your future derby winner check out our related posts below:

Related Posts

References

www.covers.com/horse-racing/kentucky-derby/results