She has been poked and prodded, weaned and wormed, inoculated and inspected -- from head to hoof.
Miss Piggy has been through the wringer. It's the bane of a would-be racehorse.
In recent weeks, the 6-month-old Carroll County foal has run a gauntlet of tests designed to fingerprint young thoroughbreds. Blood samples and mug shots of Miss Piggy have been filed with The Jockey Club, the Kentucky organization that registers racing hopefuls.
Miss Piggy's dossier includes photographs and records of the filly's special markings: the cowlicks, or swirls, in her coat; her lone white hoof; and the hairless raised callouses, or "night eyes," on her long, slender legs.
All she needs now is a racing moniker. "Miss Piggy" is a sobriquet; the horse needs a permanent name, a task her owner would leave to the public.
"People always have neat suggestions," said George Swope, of Highlandtown. "Besides, Miss Piggy is the public's horse right now."
The Sun is chronicling the progress of Miss Piggy, one of 1,500 thoroughbreds foaled in Maryland this year. Most will be named by year's end, no small feat considering what's available. From Aabaron to Z Z Zoom, more than 650,000 names are protected, including those of horses now racing, breeding or in the racing Hall of Fame.
Think it's easy, naming a thoroughbred? Four out of 10 entries are rejected by The Jockey Club, which handles an average of 150 requests a day. Taboo are trade names; those phonetically similar to names of other horses (Cigar vs. Seegah); and vulgarities, which are offered up all too often.
"Some people seem dedicated to trying to slip one past us," said Jim Peden, spokesman for The Jockey Club.
It happens. Remember Tabasco Cat? The horse who won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1994 became a galloping advertisement for hot sauce.
"We thought Tabasco was a generic term, until the company [that makes the sauce] brought it to our attention," Peden said. Result: Tabasco Cat kept his name, with the understanding that "there would be no more little Tabascos running around."
Other naming restrictions: no acronyms (NFL, HTS); no living persons, without permission, and no "notorious" characters. "We would probably not allow a horse named Adolf Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer," Peden said.
Often, a horse's name is derived from its sire and dam. For instance, Unbridled and Trolley Song begat Unbridled's Song.
Finding Miss Piggy a permanent name may not be easy, her owner said. The foal's mother is Mary Bo Peep; her father, Waquoit.
Try turning those names into something clever.
"I'm open to suggestions," said Swope. "The truth is, a horse can be named for its heritage, color, character or any reason at all."
Miss Piggy's dam is a slightly swaybacked old nag who has hit it big as a broodmare: Six of Mary Bo Peep's seven racing progeny have won at the track. Waquoit is a popular sire who won more than $2 million racing.
Waquoit's name, Algonquin in origin, means "at the head of the bay." Coincidentally, Waquoit stands at stud at Northview Stallion Station in Cecil County -- at the top of the Chesapeake.
Born a bay, Miss Piggy will eventually turn gray, like her parents. Light-colored hairs are creeping into her coat, and the distinct white mark on her forehead -- a dollar sign -- is slowly dissipating.
No matter, say those who know the spirited filly. It's what's inside that counts.
"She's healthy and independent," said Joanne Hughes, manager Liberty Run Farm in Winfield, where Miss Piggy is stabled. "She's the dominant foal in a pasture of three. Piggy runs the roost."
Her owner likes what he has seen so far.
"She looks great, like all of Mary's foals," said Swope, who also owns Miss Piggy's mother. "All are hard knockers at the track. The males have won the most money, but they all try -- and that's what counts.
"What Mary hasn't produced yet is a big, successful filly. Does Miss Piggy have that ability? I don't know. But this horse is the best bred of the lot."
Name Miss Piggy
For six months, The Sun has followed the filly nicknamed Miss Piggy. Now, it's time to give her a real name. You can help by calling Sundial, our telephone information service. Please leave your suggestions -- along with your name and telephone number -- and we will pass the names along to the horse's owner. We will be accepting suggestions until next Tuesday.
To reach Sundial, call (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. After you hear the greeting, using a touch-tone phone, punch in 6102.
Pub Date: 10/08/96