Quasan from lovely San Jose, had this interesting post.
...some wierdo wants to name his horse Sally Hemmings - former slave and concubine of President Thomas Jefferson (not really buying into the whole "mistress" thing because it implies a choice and when someone owns you ...). While I think it is an ignorant idea and probably that it has some not so savory motivation behind it, it's just not one of those things I am going to get myself worked up about.
I can understand the "letting stupid people do stupid things" mentality. I kinda agree with it. But the details surronding this case are quite interesting. As Gordon noted:
The Jockey Club rejected the name because it is of a person and the horse owner doesn't have permission. Furthermore, the Jockey Club fears it will be offensive to certain groups. The horse owner shot back saying that since Hemmings is dead, there shouldn't be a problem.
I don't know who is right on this situtation (by the way, if one looks at the foal's parents, you can see where the name Sally Hemmings came up: Dam: Jefferson's Secert. Her sire? Colonial Affair, most famous, until now, for winning the Belmont Stakes with Julie Khrone as his jockey), but I will say this, the Jockey Club is very inconsistent enforcing their naming rules.
The name rules for the American Stud Book are long, but they boil down to this: you can't name a horse after a person or a copyrighted or trademarked product without permission; you can't name a horse with a name that is deemed offensive; you can't name a horse after another horse that has been put on a special list reserved for the great race horses (i.e. you can't name your horse Secertariat or Man O War); and you can't name a horse that is similar in name to another horse currently running or at stud. All very good rules.