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It's Kentucky Derby Weekend: Name Your Hypothetical Horse

Horses train on the track in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Rob Carr
/
Getty Images
Horses train on the track in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

I am guessing that the majority of you do not own thoroughbred horses. In fact, that is the underlying assumption of this entire post, and to the degree it does not apply to you, I offer humblest apologies (your highness).

But this is the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, which I normally appreciate primarily for the way it causes everyone to momentarily forget everything they ever knew about what constitutes Too Much Hat.

Bridget Voss of Chicago, Illinois wears a Derby hat near the paddock at Churchill Downs on the afternoon of the 2011 Kentucky Derby.
Luke Sharret / AFP/Getty Images
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AFP/Getty Images
Bridget Voss of Chicago, Illinois wears a Derby hat near the paddock at Churchill Downs on the afternoon of the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

Since I don't know how to encourage all of you to submit your own hat designs, it seems that the next best thing is to encourage you to imagine that you own a thoroughbred horse — fortunately, for the sake of this exercise, you don't have to like or approve of horse racing, as it is safe to say no horses will be harmed in the imagining of their existence. If you owned such a majestic animal, you would have the option of naming it.

Well, "option."

While you can name your horse, there are a variety of requirements. The name can't be more than 18 characters, including spaces and punctuation. It can't include the name of a living or dead person, unless you jump through some hoops to make sure you're not offending anyone. It can't have "commercial, artistic or creative significance," which I think means you can't call your horse "Sherlock Holmes" or "Monster Energy" or probably even something sly like "David Hasselhoof." (That is a freaking great name for a ripped, slightly erratic horse. You have to admit this much.)

The name also can't be just initials, and it can't be a number, except that numbers over 30 are okay if they're spelled out. No names that are "suggestive or have a vulgar or obscene meaning; names considered in poor taste; or names that may be offensive to religious, political or ethnic groups." You also can't duplicate anybody else's existing horse's name, but I think we can let that go, since our horses are imaginary.

With those rules in mind, what would you name your horse? I have settled on the name of my imaginary, undoubtedly winning horse, based on the thing that means the most to me at the moment. And what's that name?

Vacation Next Week.

But I'm pretty sure that's a me thing.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

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