I had to confirm this on multiple websites to prove to myself it wasn’t a Wikipedia hoax.
This story was originally published on November 18, 2014.
He is said to be one of the greatest racehorses of the 18th century. He’s still respected to this day as an influential sire responsible for passing on the legacy of his sire Eclipse. Famed for his endurance, many of his claimed 34 victories were at distances over four miles and the stallion raced for seven years. And why do we remember this cornerstone of English thoroughbred racing and bloodlines?
Because his name was Potatoes.
Legends differ somewhat, but the gist of the story remains the same: Potatoes, as the colt was known, was bed by Willoughby Bertie, the fourth Earl of Abingdon, out of Sportsmistress by the legendary Eclipse and born in 1773. The story goes that a stable lad, misunderstanding the horse’s name (or intentionally being a goofball) broke down the word “potatoes” into “pot”… plus eight O’s. So the horse’s feed bin sported the name “Potoooooooo” which gave all the boys a good laugh and apparently also amused the Earl of Abingdon greatly. The horse actually ran under the name “Potoooooooo” for a few starts until it was finally shortened to “Pot8os.”
At this point in my research, I had to legitimize this story. This had to be an internet hoax — otherwise I had stumbled on the first instance of what would become “text speak” thanks to this stable lad from Berkshire (“gonna be l8 2nite,” “c u l8r” “sounds gr8”). There was no way that there were still Thoroughbreds who had Pot8os (or even worse, Potoooooooo) in their bloodlines.
Except it’s not, and there are. A little trip to AllBreedPedigree.com confirmed that Pot8os was real:
And a peek at a well-known descendent confirmed it:
And so the greatest incident of wordplay goes down in history, brought to you by the Thoroughbred racehorse.