One of the most entertaining components of the sport of horse racing are the unique–and occasionally silly or clever–names given to the equine athletes. Some names are picked almost at random, others have a theme like the many Detroit Red Wings related names coming out of hockey fan/trainer Doug O’Neill’s barn. Other names are an effort to be funny and/or topical (“Fifty Shades of Hay”). The general idea, however, is to make the names sound iconic or powerful and that’s where the trouble begins.
There’s one other genre fond of powerful and/or iconic names–comic book super heroes. A super hero can’t go around with a name like ‘Jeff the Super Hero’ so they need the same sort of superlative nomenclature found in horse racing. And while you’ve got ‘old school’ super heroes that make it easy by specifying their species like “Superman” or “Batman” there’s plenty that are vague–if you didn’t know better names like ‘Green Arrow’ or ‘The Flash’ could fit into a list of race entries in the Daily Racing Form and not be given a second thought.
Since we’re handicappers by nature we need numbers to work with. So we asked sports fans to identify a list of names as either ‘super hero’ or ‘race horse’. The results were interesting, to say the least: