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Keepnamesstraight
Thursday, August 14, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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A few blogs back, I reported on a contemporary problem I am having with the names of Standardbreds. If you recall, I was becoming more and more confused with which horse was which horse due to a striking similarity in names.

Due to a weekly inventory I maintain with a horses-to-watch (H2W) list which covers many racetracks around North America, my work has increased because I must enforce a certain concentration that can distinguish a Warrawee This Name to a Warrawee That Name and a Friskie This Colt to a Friskie That Colt.

The similar names that adorn the entries all over the continent have the same first name when they have two words to their names. For instance, there are countless fillies and colts and horses and mares starting with—and these are some newer ones I have discovered—Milliondollar, Windsong, Flyhawk, QB, Putnam, Eng-amer and Woodmere.

It seems the more names one sees, the more easily one may mistake one horse for another. This has become an occupational hazard, for sure, and I have handled it with fewer mistakes as time goes on, only now I notice another style for names that is slowing the process, adding to the margin for error.

These names are mini-sentences and statements, some complete, some incomplete, but all a single word—obviously to meet the requirements of the number-of-letters restriction in a name. Here are some (read them carefully to make the needed separations in the words, punctuations, missing letters and lack of capitals):
Whipmeintoshape, Astarisontheway, Howdoidreamwithoutu, Moveoutofmyway, Iwannabjustlikeu, Saywhatyouneedto say, Imgoodbadnstrange, Seeuinthespring, Chillinonadirtroad, Firstclassallthway, Holdingallthecards, Dabestleaderever, Whirlwindiplomacy, Justlivinthedream, Rollwithitharry and Nitesicantremember are the tip of this iceberg.

After looking at scores of run-on names (for lack of a better term), it seems like I am reading text messages. The mobile-phone-tweet culture is what probably spawned this new fad. After all, a tweet can only be 140 characters and I know there are letter-number restrictions on texts but also that texts in themselves have created an entirely new and accepted form of writing words (that, of course, originated with Instant Messaging, chat rooms and, as Steve Allen wrote, an overall “dumbing down” of language usage.

Aside from having to work harder on a project that already calls for a lot of attention watching race videos and reading race charts, I wonder why there are still so many great names that probably have not been used, which could be more memorable and actually thrilling. I love creativity, but I am also a stickler for titles and names, wanting each one to represent a certain greatness in a racehorse—the name of a champion even if it is not a true champion. Butwatcanidoaboutit [sic].


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The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.