As the field of Derby hopefuls turn three on January 1st this is probably a good time to consider what recent history can tell about the cache of a name. Much was made of the Doug O'Neill trained colt I'llHaveAnother beyond his crowd arousing late race heroics as owner Paul Reddam noted the inspiration for I'llhaveAnother came from his penchant for late night snacks. Whether or not he's had one too many is a question left to answered.
Not many Derby contenders will follow the tortuous naming path of Zayat Stable's 2012 success story Bodemeister who was dubbed Bradelberry following the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling sale. A change in trainers meant a name change for Bradelberry who was rebranded as Graham N Spike for Graham Mandl, a family friend and his dog Spike. Not wanting to mix metaphors between dogs and horses Ahmed Zayat with his son Justin's guidence determined that the third time would be the charm when they decided on the more favorable handle of Bodemeister for their new trainer Bob Baffert's 7 year old son Bode, who was fortuitously named for Olympic skier Bode Miller.
Early returns are positive for Starlight Racing's Shanghai Bobby. The Breeder's Cup Juvenile winner is named for Bob Burton, a Delta Airlines pilot whose trans-pacific routes regularly take him to the exotic orient. Though whether Shanghai Bobby has the route to the Run for the Roses is yet to be known as more than a few hopefuls have met with revolting developments on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The sum of their experiences does give pause and wonder just what's in a name?