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10 Racehorses Named After Sports Players & Athletes

Nadal named after Tennis Player wins San Felipe Stakes
Nadal winning the San Felipe Stakes (G2). Benoit Photos, Thoroughbred News Service

Racehorse names have been influenced by other sports for decades and the fans love it. There’s nothing better than a good racehorse named after a player you like. Even sports terms make for good racehorse names.

Since the country is currently lacking many of the sports we enjoyed and horse racing is still running, we thought it would be the perfect time to create a small list of racehorses with sports inspired names!

1. Kobe’s Back Kobe’s Back was named after beloved Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant. His silks were even the purple and yellow colors of the basketball team. Kobe’s Back towered above his competition and was so highly regarded as a two-year old that he made his career debut in a stakes race at Hollywood Park (and won!). Throughout his career, Kobe’s Back became known for his slow starts and deadly late runs. He won four graded stakes races and hit the board in three Grade 1 races. Kobe’s Back currently stands stud at Bonita Farm in Maryland with a fee of $3,000.

2. Gronkowski Gronkowski was named after New England Patriots player Rob Gronkowski. Rob even owns part of the horse! Gronkowski is most known for his second place finishes in the 2018 Belmont Stakes and 2019 Dubai World Cup. He has hit the board in two other graded stakes races so far in his career. Gronkowski’s most recent start was a 10th place finish in the inaugural Saudi Cup.

3. Three Technique Three Technique is owned by former NFL Coach Bill Parcells. The coach named him after a defensive lineman technique. Three Technique was originally planning to go to the 2020 Kentucky Derby, but his connections have decided to put him back into one-turn races after the colt finished fourth in the Rebel Stakes (G2).

4. Mr. Manning There is no confirmation on the internet that Mr. Manning is named after former Football Quarterback Peyton Manning, but it seems highly likely that the Indiana-bred gelding is named after one of the state’s biggest superstars. Mr. Manning has hit the board in multiple stakes races at Indiana Grand and has been running well in Allowance company.

5. Nadal Nadal is named after famed Spanish Tennis player Rafeal Nadal. This colt is currently undefeated with victories in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) and Rebel Stakes (G2). This Bob Baffert trainee is currently a 2020 Kentucky Derby favorite.

6. Sean Avery Hockey fans enjoyed seeing a horse named after Sean Avery, who played left wing. The horse version of Sean Avery won seven of his fourteen starts, including the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) in 2011. He won two other stakes races in his career.

7. Dehere Terry Dehere was named Big East Player of the Year for the 1992-93 season and was also named Conference Tournament MVP during while in college. He would later play for the NBA. The horse version of Dehere was also a very promising juvenile with victories in the Saratoga Special Stakes (G2), Sanford Stakes (G3), Hopeful Stakes (G1), and Champagne Stakes (G1). He also displayed a ton of promise as a three-year old with a victory in the Fountain of Youth (G2), but was retired without racing again.

8. Chris Evert Chris Evert is a retired World No. 1 Tennis player. She won 18 Grand Slam singles! The filly with whom she shares a name was also very talented in her respective field. Chris Evert won the Acorn Stakes (G1), Mother Goose Stakes (G1), and Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). She also finished second to the boys in the Travers Stakes (G1). Chris Evert was 1974’s Champion Three-Year Old Filly.

9. Nyquist Nyquist is named after Detroit Red Wings Hockey Player Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist the horse won five Grade 1 races, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby. He was voted Champion Two-Year Old Colt in 2015 and currently stands stud at Darley.

10. Syndergaard Syndergaard was named after New York Mets Pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The horse got his single stakes victory in the 2016 Funny Cide Stakes. Though he has only won one stakes race, Syndergaard has hit the board in five other stakes races. There are definitely many more racehorses who have been named after sports players or teams. Can you name some that aren’t on this list? Leave a comment!


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Apr 23, 2020

How about Pee Wee Reese, Satchel Paige

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