What’s in a name?: The best horse names of the Saratoga Race Course meet

Baby Yoda, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario, wins the 7th race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs on Saturday, July 16, 2022.

Baby Yoda, trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario, wins the 7th race at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs on Saturday, July 16, 2022.

It took just seven races into the 2022 Saratoga Race Course meet for a winner to pop up with a name that didn’t just put a smile on the faces of his connections, but plenty of fans — both from the Capital Region, and possibly from a galaxy far, far away.

The force was with Baby Yoda — the 4-year-old colt, not the adorable, meme-inducing little green alien from Disney+ hit “The Mandalorian” — when Jose Ortiz guided him to a victory in a seven-furlong allowance on July 16.

Baby Yoda — in the show, the character’s real name is Grogu, but the horse can keep the simpler label — was one of dozens upon dozens of horses whose name likely struck the public’s fancy when they came across it in their program at Saratoga this season.

The Jockey Club allows 18 characters in a thoroughbred’s name, and while there are a laundry list of rules and regulations for what a horse can’t be named, there’s still plenty of room for creativity.

Throughout the Saratoga meet, The Daily Gazette compiled a (not quite comprehensive) list of some of the best and most interesting names of horses to take the track. With the meet in the rear-view mirror, here’s a look at just a few of them, and what from the worlds of sports, politics or pop culture may have inspired their owners to make those choices.


Three Two Zone — More than a few Section II high school basketball coaches likely had a preference for this runner.

Kershaw — If the Dodgers’ lefthanded hurler who inspired this name were himself a horse, would that make him a south-hoof?

Dame Time — Presumably for the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, rather than Dames Judi Dench, Maggie Smith or Helen Mirren.

Kobe’s Legacy — Given Kobe Bryant’s impact, expect to see more than a few horses named in tribute to the Mamba in the coming years.

Seaver — It’s been an exceptionally good year for the New York Mets, but that didn’t necessarily translate for this namesake of the franchise’s greatest pitching legend with a fifth and a second in two Spa starts.


Russiarussiarussia — No congressional investigations for this 3-year-old filly, but no wins at Saratoga this season, either.

Chief Justice — Steeplechaser would almost certainly beat the real Chief Justice, John Roberts, in a two-mile race over hurdles.

Stimulus Check — Maybe that’s what went into this horse’s purchase?

Stop the Spread — Hopefully, we reach an era where horses named after the COVID-19 pandemic will seem very, very odd in retrospect.

Daily Briefing — Free idea: White House daily press briefings done on horseback.


Wonka — Hopefully named after the 1971 Gene Wilder version with the creepy tunnel, instead of the 2005 Johnny Depp version with the creepy everything else.

Frat Pack — The movie with the greatest “Frat Pack” representation? That’d be 2004’s “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” with only Owen Wilson missing from the cast.

Robin Sparkles — A name any “How I Met Your Mother” fan could love. Let’s go to the mall, everybody!

Alice Kramden — One of these days … Bang! Zoom! Right to the winner’s circle.

Fish Mooney — Proof that FOX’s mid-2010s Batman prequel series “Gotham” made at least some cultural impact, apparently.

Categories: At The Track, Saratoga Springs, Sports, Sports

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