What's In a Name

What's In A Name? Seize the Night, Someday Is Today, Caravel, Que Sera Sir Ralph, Heresy

As for intriguing names of winning horses, that was the week that was. Let's start with the seminal power of those two immortal little words Carpe Diem ('Seize The Day'} from Ancient Rome prince of poets Horace (65-8 BC)--also responsible for Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori ('It is sweet and fitting to die for the homeland'), written only a few years after having run away, throwing the shield on the ground, at the battle of Philippi (42 BC). Two horses creatively honored the WinStar stallion Carpe Diem (by...

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What's In a Name: Hester Prynne (GB)

Congratulations to whoever named the very first winner by the Galileo (Ire) stallion Mondialiste (Ire). The 2-year-old filly won a novice at Beverley on May 3 for trainer David O'Meara and is out of Dame Hester (Ire) (Diktat {GB}). The Geoff and Sandra Turnbull-owned filly is named after the most famous Hester of all: Hester Prynne (GB), the complex and dignified heroine of the American classic The Scarlet Letter--the 1850 novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The narrative takes place in a Puritan community in Massachusetts in the 1640s; the protagonist of...

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What's In A Name: Joan of Arc

Racing success makes the name of a horse just right in most cases, and this is likely to happen with very promising 3-year-old filly JOAN OF ARC, a winner at The Curragh Mar. 21, the first day of spring. Still, this beautiful name seems so appropriate even now, because of the underlying historical connection between the French heroine Joan of Arc and the great scientist Galileo Galilei. In fact, both Joan of Arc and Galileo got in trouble with the Inquisition--to put it mildly. It was, and it was not,...

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What's In a Name: Tenebrism

Young filly Tenebrism (f, 2, Caravaggio--Immortal Verse {Ire}, by Pivotal {GB}), the dramatically fast winner of the first race at Naas on Mar. 28, carries a brilliant and astute name. "'Tenebrism', from Italian tenebroso (dark, gloomy, mysterious), also occasionally called 'dramatic illumination', is a style of painting using especially pronounced chiaroscuro, where there are violent contrasts of light and dark, and where darkness becomes a dominating feature of the image," states Wikipedia. And who is generally credited with the invention of this technique? None other than Michelangelo Merisi, also known...

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What's In A Name: Diderot

Diderot (GB), g, 3, Bated Breath (GB)--Modern Look (GB) (MGSW-Fr & SP-US, $281,388), by Zamindar. Dundalk, 3-12, 8f (AWT), 1:39.24. B-Juddmonte Farms Ltd (GB). *1/2 to Grand Jete (GB) (Dansili {GB}), GSW & MGISP-US, $335,759. by Andreas Branchini "Raced freely, led early, kept on well," reads the racing commentary about the victory of 3-year-old Diderot, who came out on top in a competitive maiden at Dundalk last week. That same narrative could also be applied to the career of the horse's 18th century namesake, the great philosopher of the Enlightenment...

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What's In a Name: Buridan (Fr)

There is a lot of learning and incredible subtlety in the name of 2-16-2021 Chantilly winner Buridan (Fr) (g, 6, Choisir {Aus}--Lady McKell {Ire}, by Raven's Pass). The sire's name is French for "to choose" and not for nothing, the great Australian sprinter was out of Great Selection (Aus) (Lunchtime {GB}), who was out of Pensive Mood (Aus) (Biscay {Aus}). The namesake of our horse is none other than a 14th century French philosopher, who explored the problems of choice and indecision with the help of a not-so-noble but endearing...

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What's In a Name: Postnup

There is quite a lot of marriage material in the name and family of 3-year-old winning filly Postnup (f, 3, Declaration of War--I'm Engaged, by Broken Vow). Is the proposal of a "postnup" somehow related to a declaration of war? Hopefully not. According to Google a "postnup" is "a legally binding contract--entered during the marriage, as opposed to a prenup--that spells out who gets what portion of specified assets and how liabilities are shared in the event of a divorce." So it is more like a treaty, and treaties, among...

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What's in a Name: Duke of Verona (Ire)

Every horse is a mystery. And a winner at 33-1 on its racecourse debut is a mystery that is partially disclosed, like in the case of Duke of Verona (Ire) (Belardo {Ire}), who came to win his maiden on 1-22-21 at Lingfield from very far behind--"from downtown", as a basketball pundit would have put it. But there is another little mystery: where does this name come from? Is there a connection among the horses in the pedigree? The investigation took a while. First line of inquiry: was there a Belardo...

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What's In a Name: Amniarix

6th-Wolverhampton, £20,000, Cond, 1-4, 4yo/up, f/m, 7f 36y (AWT), 1:26.70, st. AMNIARIX (f, 4, Speightstown--Bold Lass {Ire}, by Sea the Stars {Ire}) Lifetime Record: 5-3-0-1, $29,465. O/B-Bjorn Nielsen (KY); T-Ed Walker. The recent Wolverhampton female winner Amniarix is out of a mare named Bold Lass and her namesake was indeed a very brave young woman. Amniarix was the spy codename of Jeannie Rousseau (1919-2017), who was not only a hero of the French Resistance but also an uncompromising survivor of three German prison camps. Jeannie's command of the German language...

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What's In a Name: Gervais

Kudos to whoever was creative and subtle enough to name GERVAIS a horse by DISTORTED HUMOR. The winner of a handicap race at Meydan last week has just that almost risqué name. English actor Ricky Gervais is the creator of The Office, a TV program that stretched the borders of mainstream humor in the UK and in the US. Moreover, Ricky Gervais has presented the Golden Globes five times, always under the threat of being fired because of his outrageous sense of humor and his cutting, take-no-prisoner jokes. With Gervais...

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What's In a Name: Incitato

Mad Roman Emperor Caligula tried to make his favorite horse INCITATUS a consul, according to legend--and the accounts of maybe partisan historians Suetonius and Cassius Dio. Clearly aware of this spectacular milestone of executive overreach, Dante Zanelli's wife Yolanda Del Rosario gave the Italian version of the name--INCITATO--to the colt by GOLDENCENTS out ZABEEL SARAY (by GIROLAMO) her husband bought at Fasig Tipton as a yearling last October. INCITATO, whose literal translation would be "incited" or "spurred", won his maiden spectacularly in Peru in October and now goes for a...

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What's In a Name: Omnia Munda Mundis

3rd-Fontainebleau, €22,000, Mdn, 11-12, unraced 2yo, f, 9fT, 1:58.95, sf. OMNIA MUNDA MUNDIS (GB) (f, 2, Australia {GB}--Regina Mundi {Ire} {SP-Ity}, by Montjeu {Ire}) Sales history: €190,000 Ylg '19 ARAUG. Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, €11,000. Video, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton. 1ST-TIME STARTER. O/B-San Paolo Agri-Stud SRL (GB); T-Fabrice Chappet. Omnia Munda Mundis could be translated from Latin as "everything is pure to the pure." The expression comes apparently from a letter of St Paul, but has been made sort of famous by a remarkable scene in Alessandro Manzoni's I Promessi Sposi, probably...

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