There Was a Dominant 18th-Century Racehorse Named Pot8os

S. Gilpin, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
S. Gilpin, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / S. Gilpin, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Thoroughbred horse racing has been a British tradition for centuries. Thoroughbreds are bred specifically for racing, and their lineages are meticulously recorded. To this day, the bloodlines of individual thoroughbred horses can be traced back hundreds of years, and many horses are known specifically for their famous ancestors. With elegant-sounding names like Voltaire, King Herod, and Launcelot, thoroughbred horses are basically the royalty of the equine world. Which is why it’s so surprising that, in the 1770s, Willoughby Bertie, the 4th Earl of Abingdon, decided to name his thoroughbred racehorse "Pot8os."

The son of Eclipse and Sportsmistress, Pot8os was said to be one of the best racehorses of the 18th century. According to Horse Nation, the thoroughbred may have won as many as 34 races in his day. But while many of Pot8os’ victories are a matter of historical record, the origin of his name is not. 

The most popular legend goes that Pot8os was originally named “Potatoes” (which still seems like a strange choice), and that the name change was the result of a humorous misspelling. When asked to write the horse’s name on a feed bin, a stable boy, either by accident or as a joke, wrote “Potoooooooo” ("pot" plus eight o's.) When the Earl of Abingdon found out, he was so amused he decided to make the spelling change permanent. According to Horse Nation, “The horse actually ran under the name ‘Potoooooooo’ for a few starts until it was finally shortened to ‘Pot8os.’”

[h/t: Horse Nation]