The Empress of The Style Invitational on this week’s ‘grandfoal’ contest and haiku results

Also back in May — as we’ve been doing every year since 2006 — we followed up with the “grandfoals” contest, to “breed” any two of the names that got ink that week. As usual, the entry pool diminished by almost half from the previous month, but 2,000 entries are still a ton for an Invite contest (remember, I’m the only person who judges the entries, and I do like the occasional hour of sleep).

But then sheez, I figured that Week 1382, Week 1386 AND Week 1400 would be enough horses for a while! So I ran one of our recurring Ask Backwards contests instead. But then sheez no. “When do we get to do the grandfoals for these horses?’ I was asked by some of the more dedicated members of the Loser Community as soon as I printed the Week 1400 results. After that, I even heard from

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Style Invitational Week 1405: Okay, once more around the track

Because This Crazy Year included the postponement of the Kentucky Derby, the Invite ended up running its big-deal “foal breeding” contest not only in May, but with another set of horse names in September, whose results ran last week. Also in May, we ran the annual spinoff contest to pair any two of the inking foal names from that first contest to produce “grandfoals.”

So three horse contests in a year! Enough already, right? Nope! After last week’s foal names were announced, Losers and even just-readers wrote to the Empress, asking, “Aren’t you going to do the grandfoals contest again?”

Noblesse oblige, we guess. This week: At the bottom of this page is a list of the 67 foal names that got ink in Week 1400. Now, “breed” any two and name the offspring to reflect both parents’ names, as in the examples above. As always, the names may not

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Style Conversational Week 1404: The Empress of the Style Invitational on this week’s contest and results

But like just about everything else this year, the pandemic sent the Triple Crown schedule into cuckooland, with the Derby postponed from May to September, the Preakness till October, and the Belmont, usually last and longest, run first, but at a shorter length. What to do with the Invite: I wasn’t sure we’d get any Derby race at all, so back in May I went ahead with Week 1382, presenting a list of 100 previous Derby winners back to 1878 and putting them up for stud. The results were, as always, a delightful deluge of puns and other wordplay, sifted from almost 4,000 entries. And then, as usual, we had the encore “grandfoals” contest in which the inking entries were bred with one another, with similarly clever results.

But sure enough, the Kentucky Derby did go off on Sept. 5, and I couldn’t resist playing the ponies one more time

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Style Invitational Week 1404: Ask Backwards 38, a not-so-‘Jeopardy!’ contest

Submit up to 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Oct. 12; results will appear Nov. 1 in print, Oct. 29 online.

Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a Chinese army-style red-starred olive drab cap, picked up in China a while back by a “a former U.S. government ‘researcher,’ if you know what I mean,” says its donor, Loser Steve Smith.

The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column discusses each new contest and set of results. See this week’s at

Our new Loser-made podcast! In Episodes 1 through  4 of  You’re Invited, host Mike Gips has interviewed the Empress, Top Inviter Ever Chris Doyle, Founder of the Loser Community Elden Carnahan, and Current Dominator Duncan Stevens. Hear each half-hour at; the next one will drop in a few weeks. 

Horse and jokey: The foal

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It’s the Maui Invitational — but Asheville style

Preparations are underway for the Maui Invitational’s move to Asheville. A site visit is underway to fine tune the plans for the event.

a sign on the floor

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Caption: WLOS

The tournament is typically held the week of Thanksgiving in Maui, but, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, the venue has been moved to Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville. The venue and the timing is different this year, but organizers are gearing up.

“We’re not trying to be Maui. We are trying to present just the best experience for the student-athletes in a year where things are crazy for them,” said Demp Bradford, president of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission.


Bradford said everything is coming together for Asheville to play host to the eight NCAA basketball teams for the annual tournament.

“The court was refinished last year,”

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