Not fake news: horse name changed to avoid boos as Royal Trump is deemed too controversial

Donald Trump
Donald Trump: no longer royal on the racetrack. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

By Jon Lees

USA: A racehorse named Royal Trump has had his name officially changed after his owner decided that it had become too controversial to race a horse who will be associated with ex-President Donald Trump.

Steven McCanne, a California software entrepreneur, said having a horse who could potentially return to the winners’ circle to loud boos from the crowd “was the last thing the sport (and the horse) need”, so applied to the Jockey Club to give him a new name.

Despite the six-year-old gelding having run as Royal Trump 27 times already, recording six victories, the application was granted. Peaceful Transfer, the horse formerly known as Royal Trump, will line up for the first time since the change was made in a claimer at Los Alamitos on Saturday.

Horse Racing Bob Hess jr trainer
Bob Hess jr: trainer of Peaceful Transfer, formerly Royal Trump. Photo: Benoit

McCanne, speaking to the Paulick Report, said he had regarded the name as “a harmless joke” when he was claimed after a race at Del Mar in November last year, but changed his mind on January 6 when thousands of Trump supporters overran the US Capitol refusing to accept the US election result. 

Peaceful Transfer is a reference to what should have happened in the months between Trump losing the election and President Joe Biden took office.

In his letter to the Jockey Club, dated two days after the insurrection, McCanne said he recognised Royal Trump, by Ministers Wild Cat out of Royal Woodman, “had a controversial connotation but it seemed to me a harmless joke” when he claimed him with trainer Bob Hess Jr.

He went on: “Unfortunately, things are different now. After the events of this week, I feel the name has become critically controversial.  No matter what one’s politics are, there are many strong emotions around the name ‘Trump’.

“Names and words matter and their meaning and implications can evolve. I feel that the name ‘Trump’ is now controversial enough that it may detract from the spirit and positivity of the racing culture.  The last thing the sport (and the horse) need are loud boos from (some in) the crowd because ‘Royal Trump’ enters the winner’s circle.

“For these reasons, I humbly submit to the Jockey Club this proposal to change Royal Trump’s name to ‘Peaceful Transfer’.”

• Find out how Peaceful Transfer got on

• Read more at the Paulick Report

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