Thoroughbred Naming and Pedigree

Registration and “live cover” breeding

The Jockey Club is the organization that oversees the Thoroughbred industry in the United States. All Thoroughbreds, regardless of their actual date of birth, are given an official birthday of January 1st to keep the age groups easily defined for race conditions. They must be registered with the Jockey Club within a year of their actual date of birth and must be DNA typed to prove their parentage. To be eligible for registration, both parents must be registered and DNA/blood typed and the foal must be the product of a live cover and not artificial insemination or embryo transfer. Live cover means the horses must have an actual breeding session, with handlers holding the mare and stallion.

The Jockey Club’s  full list of rules for registration is HERE

Naming Thoroughbreds

The Jockey Club has strict rules on naming:

  • A Thoroughbred must be named by February of its 2-year-old year or a late fee will be charged.
  • Six names in order of preference are submitted by the owner and the Jockey Club will decide which they can have.Horse names can be changed for a fee unless it has already raced or been bred.
  • Names can be up to 18 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  • All horse names must be approved by the Jockey Club

The following classes of names are not eligible for use:
1. Names consisting of more than 18 letters (spaces and punctuation marks count as letters);
2. Names consisting entirely of initials such as C.O.D., F.O.B., etc.;
3. Names ending in “filly,” “colt,” “stud,” “mare,” “stallion,” or any similar horse-related term;
4. Names consisting entirely of numbers. Numbers above thirty may be used if they are spelled out;
5. Names ending with a numerical designation such as “2nd” or “3rd,” whether or not such a designation is spelled out;
6. Names of living persons unless written permission to use their name is on file with The Jockey Club;
7. Names of persons no longer living unless approval is granted by The Jockey Club based upon a satisfactory written explanation submitted to the Registrar;
8. Names of racetracks or graded stakes races;
9. Names clearly having commercial, artistic or creative significance;
10. 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;
11. Names that appear to be designed to harass, humiliate or disparage a specific individual, group of individuals or entity;
12. Names that are currently active either in racing or breeding (see Rule6(E));
13. Names of winners in the past 25 years of grade one stakes races;
14. Permanent names. The list of criteria to establish a permanent name is as follows:
a. Horses in racing’s Hall of Fame;
b. Horses that have been voted Horse of the Year;
c. Horses that have won an Eclipse Award;
d. Horses that have won a Sovereign Award (Canadian Champions);
e. Annual leading sire and broodmare sire by progeny earnings;
f. Cumulative money winners of $2 million or more;
g. Horses that have won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes, The Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Turf; and
h. Horses included in the International List of Protected Names.
15. Names similar in spelling or pronunciation to the classes of names listed in Rule 6(F) 6 – 14 above.
16. Names of horses previously recorded in The American Stud Book by the same sire or out of the same dam as the foal for which the attempt is made.
17. Names of horses appearing within the first five generations of the pedigree of the foal for which the attempt is made.


Pedigree Search- Online Database

Search for the pedigree of  thoroughbred racehorses:


Pedigree Basics:



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