Why Is "American Pharoah" Spelled Like That?
American Pharoah may win the Triple Crown later today, but no matter the outcome of the Belmont Stakes, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion has already won the scorn of the world's spelling sticklers, English teachers, and Egyptologists. How did a horse with such a high profile get saddled with a mangled spelling of "Pharaoh"?
It may not shock you to learn that the culprit was spelling and grammar's most formidable foe: The Internet. ABC News has the story: When American Pharoah's owner, Ahmed Zayat of Zayat Stables, asked for fans' help choosing a name for his promising colt, Marsha Baumgartner suggested the winning moniker. "American Pharaoh" was a clever suggestion that nodded to both Zayat's Egyptian heritage and the horse's sire, Pioneerof the Nile, and damsire, Yankee Gentleman.
While there are rigid rules around acceptable names for thoroughbreds, there's no requirement that names be spelled correctly. (Or spaced correctly—looking at you, Pioneerof the Nile.) When Zayat Stables submitted the name "American Pharoah" to the Jockey Club in January 2014, it met all the organization's criteria, so it went on the books, misspelling and all.
Perhaps the funniest part of the misspelling is that Baumgartner told ABC News she tried to ensure she had everything right. “I remember looking up the spelling [so] that I would spell it right,” she said. “I guess I could’ve transposed the letters when I entered it. I can’t put blame on anyone, but I think it makes him more unique.”