What's in a name? A lot for today's field

Marciano carries punch, Bay Eagle is for birds and Monarchos rules

May 19, 2001|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

The name game in thoroughbred racing is, to some, no big deal. As Dollar Bill's trainer, Dallas Stewart, said, "It's a name, like yours or mine." And yes, every horse has one. But for many, a name is more than a way to identify a horse.

To the casual horse racing fan, it can be the deciding factor on which horse to bet. To owners, it's a way to acknowledge the regard they have for bloodlines, or a way to honor a relative.

In today's Preakness field, every name has a story.

Frank Shipp, president and general manager of Lazy Lane Farms in Upperville, Va., where Preakness entry Bay Eagle was born and raised, said a horse's name is so important a party is sometimes held to name the foals.

"But I don't think there was a party the year Bay Eagle was named," Shipp said. "His name came from the fact that birds - Kittiwake and Sea-Bird - are in his family tree.

"It brought to mind birds of flight and we came up with eagle."

An eagle is a noble bird, and Shipp said a horse and owner need all the good karma they can get.

"An eagle makes you think of flight and speed," Shipp said.

Marciano's owners, who live in Wilmington, Del., decided to have fun with their horse's name and create good vibes. Marciano's sire is Two Punch.

"We're a bunch of Italian guys," said Harry Papaleo, one of Marciano's owners. "We bought the horse as a yearling at Timonium and he didn't have a name. He was by Two Punch. Dave [Malatesta, another Marciano owner] and I were talking about names. Dave's favorite fighter was Rocky Marciano."

Papaleo checked to see if the name was available. (The names of thoroughbreds, kept in a data base, can be used only once.)

"Two Punch is a popular stallion in Maryland and I was surprised Marciano was available," said Papaleo, smiling. "There must not be many Italians in Maryland."

Actor/producer Robert Redford had nothing to do with the naming of Congaree, but you could say, "A River Runs Though It." Owners Robert and Janice McNair, who are from South Carolina, named their horse for the Congaree River that winds across their home state.

Griffinite is owned by Ernie Paragallo and it was Paragallo's wife, Lorene, who named the horse after her godson, Griffin.

The biggest star in today's race, Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, has a name to fit his station. Owner John Oxley named him after Greek ruler Georgios Monarchos of the Byzantine era. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that he and his wife, Debby, were drawn to the concept of royalty from the dam's side and that he found Monarchos while reading a book on Greek history.

Percy Hope got his name because of the love and respect his owners, cousins Thomas and Peter Wilmont, have for their grandfather, whose name is Percy Hope.

Mr. John also was named for a grandfather. "My grandfather lived in Maysville, Ky.," said Tom Van Meter II, who owns the horse sired by Golden Gear. "His name was John Browning and everybody called him `Mr. John.' "

A P Valentine was named for his sire, the 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy.

Point Given's name came via a business meeting of his owner, Prince Ahmed Salman, in London. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that the prince said, "Someone mentioned the term `point given,' and I said, `Stop. That's what I'll name a horse.' "

Dollar Bill, while just a name - as his trainer said this week - is a special name all the same.

"Everybody loves a dollar bill," owner Gary West explained in the Courier-Journal before the Derby.

At Mockingbird Farm in Ocala, Fla., more than 200 horses are born and named each year for their sire and dam. When a foal out of Valid Blend by Rizzi was foaled, his name got the same attention as the others.

"In the case of Rizzi," said Mark Casse, director of operations, "we thought it would be difficult to keep coming up with names - Rizzi-this, Rizzi-that. So we decided to use the name Rich in all his offspring born here."

Thus Richly Blended was chosen.

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