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Jenny Kellner is an award-winning journalist and educator who has written about horse racing for more than 20 years. She has been a media specialist with NYRA for the past four years.

What's in a Name? Plenty!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chocolate Candy
This year, when asked, “Jenny, who do you like in the Belmont Stakes?” I will be careful to preface my response with a discussion of past performances, recent workouts, pedigree analysis, speed figures, and, most importantly, names.

The importance of names in the 2009 Triple Crown cannot be understated. In the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby, for instance, Professional Handicappers were touting “underlays” like Pioneerof the Nile and Friesan Fire and urging fans to include “overlays” like Papa Clem or Desert Party in their trifecta boxes. Armed with this information, people rushed to the windows to bet Mine That Bird at 50-1 because they were a) bird lovers, or b) fans of Calvin Borel, or c) fans of birds who also loved Calvin Borel, or d) 8 years old.

However, in my professional opinion, the only Derby runner worthy of my $2 show bet was the horse who represented two of the four Major Food Groups – Chocolate Candy. (One might argue that the colt’s name is somewhat redundant, but candy refers to a confection made from a concentrated solution of sugar in water, while chocolate comprises foods that are produced from the seeds of the cacao tree. It may not matter to you, but it matters to me.)

The rejected mint
Even though I was wearing my lucky “Just Give Me the Chocolate and No One Gets Hurt” tee-shirt on May 2, Chocolate Candy checked in fifth in the Derby, and was declared from the Preakness in order to train up to the Belmont Stakes. Still sweet on him despite the loss, I went over to meet him for the first time in the annex behind Shug McGaughey’s barn.

The first thing Chocolate Candy did was lay his ears back and try to bite me. The second thing was to turn around so his butt was facing the front of the stall. 

ME: Do you think he would like me any better if I gave him a peppermint?

GROOM: Maybe.
After a quick trip to the dollar store, I returned with a 99-cent bag of round, red-and-white striped peppermints. Intrigued by the crackling sound of the cellophane as I took it off the wrapper, Chocolate Candy swung around, his ears pricked. He took the sweet from my outstretched hand, mumbled it around in his mouth for a minute, spit it out on the floor, and turned his back again.

ME: Do you think he would like more expensive mints better?

GROOM: Maybe.
Chocolate Candy showing us his better side
I called my friend Ashley, who last month purchased a huge bag of pricey after-dinner mints with the express purpose of feeding them to Quality Road. She came over to share them with Chocolate Candy, who continued to stare sullenly at the back wall of his stall no matter how madly we crumbled the cellophane. Eventually, he turned around, took the new, more expensive mint, rolled it around his tongue for a moment, and once again dropped it on the ground. This time, though, he tried to bite us first before turning his back.

Crankiness aside, how can you have a name like Chocolate Candy and not like candy?

I’m looking for another Belmont horse.

Comments :

  • jason | May 15 2009 06:48 PM

    hi jenny my sisters name is jenny by the way what you said about the picking horses by there names is tottaly true and effective my wife for the first time took her to the belmont stakes last year to my surprise she didnt like big brown with all the hype going on with all that was going on that day she came and told me she thinks da tara is going to win and wants to bet after trying to convince her to pick another horse my efforts went unheard me winning some bets that day i gave her two hundred dollars she secretly bet 200 wins on da tara when that horse was comming down the home stretch she was screeming her life out so names are important this year she likes terrain for the belmont by the way with the money she won she bought a ring and proposed to me i am a fan of your work keep it up

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