You look at the list of Preakness winners over the years and, for the most part, they have names that range from serious to charming to the mildly whimsical: Citation, Secretariat, American Pharoah, Affirmed, Silver Charm, Spectacular Bid, Red Bullet, Lookin at Lucky.
But some horses on the daily racing charts have truly wacky names. The one that caused laughter on Friday, Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico, was Bananas on Fire. I don’t have the advantage today of knowing how a three-year-old California colt gets a name like that. The name is not connected to its blood line. Bananas on Fire is by Mast Track and a mare sired by Cryptoclearance, a fine horse who finished third in the 1987 Preakness and fourth in the Belmont. So the line was good, and the horse finished in the money in four of its last six starts, almost all of them at Laurel. Entered in Friday’s second race, Bananas on Fire came in with a mediocre rating and morning line odds at 20-1. At post time, the colt went off at 60-1, a sign that few bettors had any faith in a horse by that name. And on a day when there are a lot of amateurs placing bets — and a lot of rusty handicappers like me in the house — a wacky name instills little confidence.
Well, anyway, you must know by now where this is leading. Bananas On Fire charged out from the No. 3 post to the lead, fell off the lead, stayed in the pack and jockey Kevin Gomez made a nice move at the stretch, and the colt finished second! The 7-3 exacta paid #213.20.
So, good luck with your betting but just remember that line from Shakespeare: “A horse by any other name would smell like a horse.“
Note: The spring meet at Pimlico has been extended through June 30 so if you don’t get to the track for the Preakness you have plenty of time to enjoy racing — and maybe even pick some winners with wacky names — over the next few weeks.