The 10 Best Horse Names Of All Time

These are the 10 best horse names ever.

10. Afleet Alex (2005 Preakness winner)
“Afleet” doesn’t mean anything. It’s not an actual word. But when you see “Afleet Alex” you think, “This is a quick horse. This is a physically light horse. This is a horse that is fleet on his feet. This is a horse that runs very fast.”

afleet alex horse

9. Clyde Van Dusen (1929 Kentucky Derby winner) 
Clyde Van Dusen is named after his jockey and trainer, Clyde Van Dusen. Naming your horse after yourself (first and last name) is the ultimate power move. It is Clyde Van Dusen signaling to the world that the horse is not a wild animal, but an extension of himself.

clyde van dusen

8. Seattle Slew (1977 Triple Crown winner)
Silky-smooth name. Manages to connote something agrarian even though it has the word “Seattle” in it.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

7. Sly Fox (1898 Preakness winner)
Works on two levels: 1) it tells you a little bit about the character of the horse 2) Sly could maybe be short for Sylvester, and “Sylvester Fox” would be #1 on this list.

The Morning Herald

6. War Admiral (1937 Triple Crown winner)
War Admiral is a strong and important horse who will crush you, like a fleet of Navy carriers descending on a small troop of rebels who’ve been on a small island for weeks without suitable rations, their number dwindling after an outbreak of typhus, awaiting the mechanical death creeping toward them from across the sea. That’s the impression I get from the name “War Admiral.”


5. Tabasco Cat (1994 Belmont winner)

Darrell Ingham/Getty Images

4. Thunder Gulch (1995 Kentucky Derby winner)
What an evocative name. Close your eyes and think of the words. Thunder Gulch… “It’s night time. You come to an open space in the woods and hear the faint trickling of a stream. Before you is a deep ravine, a gulch. There’s a horse down there. He’s alone. Your meet eyes and it becomes clear that he is the curious one. Then the sound of faraway thunder, and you both turn away.”

thunder gulch kentucky derby

3. Whiskery (1927 Preakness Winner)
“Whiskery” is a commentary on the inherent absurdity of horse names. A horse is born with what appear to be whiskers. You name him Whiskery. 

2. Joe Cotton (1885 Kentucky Derby Winner)
I love it when horses have people names. Joe Cotton sounds like a very cool and very handsome 28-year-old drifter who knows a thing or two about how the world works.

Joe Cotton died in 1888 during a race. In his obituary the New York Times didn’t write that he “died,” but rather than he was “destroyed” — as if he was an entity incapable of death.


1. Real Quiet (1998 Kentucky Derby winner)
A beautiful, powerful name. It’s about the thing that comes right after a hush of quiet — the break in the silence — a great horse bursting through the gates.

real quiet 1998 kentucky derby

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