The SIM-Karma of Names: A Chat with Kevin Hern
by Kelley Wachter posted 2012-02-10 9:45 am PST
In the SIM Forum thread about Year 32 Goals, he has proclaimed himself “The best namer of foals in the SIM,” so I decided that in my little foray of articles about naming I should include a part where I ask Mr. Kevin Hern about some of his feelings on naming and the naming process. While Caesar Augustus and Kareem Abdul may be two of his highlights in the naming game, Hern has also christened millionaires Jaco Pastorius and Pax Britannica, as well as Pax Dei. If you have ever had a Hern-named horse in your stable, chances are that there was a reason behind the moniker. What follows is Hern’s commentary on naming and the SIMkarma responsibilities relating to naming.
Do you prefer to name foals as you breed them, name them in a batch, or do you like to wait and see how they gallop/work out?
K.H.: I prefer to name foals as I breed them. This doesn't always work out, I usually have around 5 foals per class that I don't name right away. Unnamed foals usually happen at the end of the year when I'm rushed for time trying to get all my breeding finished before the deadline. Occasionally I'll rename some foals if I end up not liking the first name I used. Sometimes I name foals before I breed them and then select stallions based on whether or not I can make that cross work with the name I've picked out.....proper naming karma is a very important, and under appreciated, part of being a successful SIM trainer. I think some trainers out there are denying themselves success by using extremely poor horse naming strategies and their horses are losing races they should be winning as a result. It's really unfortunate.
Do you have any particular themes you like to follow? Strategies?
K.H. As far as themes go....I guess one is that I was a history student in college so I rely on historical stuff a lot. I studied a fair amount of ancient Rome and early Christianity, and Caesar Augustus came out of that, for example. Looking back through horses I've named, you'd probably find a lot of old battles, kings, etc. stuff like that. I like French names as well, French just sounds better than English.
Is your preference to follow some sort of indication of the sire &dam name/lineage or do you pull names out of the blue?
K.H: I ALWAYS try to tie a foal name into the pedigree somehow. This ties back into the proper SIMkarma I was talking about earlier. Most people don't know this, but failure to tie a foal name to its pedigree, by my professional estimation, costs a horse at least an average of 3 speed figure points per race, and honestly it's probably more like 5. It doesn't matter if the name comes from the sire side or the dam side, but it must, in some way, come from the pedigree or the horse will not reach full potential.
Do you reserve names? If so, what prompts you to reserve a name?
K.H.: I haven't reserved a name for a long time now, I generally don't plan further ahead than maybe 10 days with anything I do in the SIM.
Any naming regrets?
K.H.: As far as regrets go, every once in a while I'll be entering a 3 or 4 year old and think to myself, "this name just sound terrible, no wonder this horse is a maiden who has never run faster than a 50sf.....off to GP with this pig" but the only specific one I can come up with right now is Movember. A couple points here; first, it just sounds stupid. Second, and most importantly is that I tried doing the whole Movember thing and just hated it. I mean it really was basically torture. I don't quite understand how any self-respecting man can allow himself to be seen in public with a porn 'stache. No offense intended, but it just isn't 1972 anymore, you know? Also, they are really uncomfortable. And Ron Jeremy has one. What were we talking about again?
Any naming triumphs or favorites?
K.H.:Well, as Goose once said, "the list is long, but distinguished." Caesar Augustus was one, and he made a career out of beating horses he had no business beating, and by some miracle sired two millionaires. Every foal I name from a Ferguson lease is pretty much perfect (and I'm confident Laura will back me up on that). And Kareem Abdul. I mean seriously, how completely awesome is a horse named Kareem Abdul, by Jabaar? Seriously, beyond cool. Granted, Jabaar is misspelled but that's the Steward's fault, not mine (Steward's Note: The SIM Jabaar is not named after the basketball player, and his name is spelled correctly). Had I just come up with a good name instead of me of the greatest horsey names in the history of the SIM he would probably have been allowance-level. Thanks to his name he was one of the best horses of his generation.....and not only that but any hoop fan can come up with a thousand awesome foal names by breeding to him. I really outdid myself on that one.
Favorite name of a horse you did not name?.
K.H.: Well, we can go ahead and strike every horse that is in any way associated with the abomination that is Harry Potter. Probably Trafalgar. It satisfies the history requirement being an extremely important battle, Trafalgar sounds close enough to Vernacular so as to not anger the SIM horse naming gods, every ship that participated in that battle automatically qualifies as an extremely awesome foal name for those sending mares to him, and anyone with a mare with Banner up-close can have some fun with inbreeding. It's no accident that he's the top turf routing sire in the SIM right now. Ara is an excellent namer of horses (er.....aside from the aforementioned Harry Potter issue).
I want to thank Mr. Hern for his good humor and his taking time to answer and comment on my questions. I hope other SIMplayers enjoy his answers as much as I did!
[disclaimer: any opinions expressed here are those of Mr. Hern’s , bearing no relation to those of the author, The Steward, or SIM establishment]
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