On Derby Day, It’s All About the Hats… and the Horses

People have always said that the Kentucky Derby is all about the hats. I would add that it is still and always will be about the horses as well.

As we approach the 139th Run for the Roses, I have a special horse to tell you about. His name is Sarava, and he is one of the newest retirees at Old Friends, a farm in Kentucky for retired Thoroughbred racehorses. Sarava is the horse that Old Friends and I have chosen to honor in this month’s auction fundraiser, “Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby.”  This unique annual auction series is a six month event leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Each month, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® creates and donates for the monthly auction a one-of-a-kind Derby hat to honor one of Old Friends’ retirees.


The year was 2002, and two black stallions were making a bid to win the Belmont Stakes. War Emblem, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, was poised to make Triple Crown racing history with a win in the Belmont that would end a 24-year Triple Crown drought since Affirmed had won all three races in 1978.

Three weeks prior to the Belmont, the other black stallion named Sarava, who had been sidelined from the the Derby due to an inury, ran in the Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard and won a stunning victory. As fate would have it at the start of the Belmont, War Emblem stumbled at the gate and the crowd gave a collective gasp. Although War Emblem recovered and made a valiant run, it was Sarava with Edgar Prado onboard who split horses at the top of the stretch and dueled with the game Medaglia d’Oro neck and neck to the finish. In the end it was Sarava who pulled off the win with a half-length victory, etching a place in the Belmont history books as the longest shot ever to win the Tiffany-crafted Belmont Stakes trophy.


Good fortune has followed Sarava, whose name in Brazilian means “good luck”, into retirement at Old Friends where he will spend the rest of his days and be visited by his fans for years to come.

A dramatic chapeau was needed to honor this great champion. A stylish Derby design was created with a unique blend of colors, tones and textures that showcases Sarava’s nearly black coloring along with the red roses of the Derby, the white carnations of the Belmont, and the owners’ racing silk colors of red and white. To learn more about this great champion, please visit the Sarava webpage created for him by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® for the auction.


I created “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” to remind everyone that on Derby Day it truly is all about the hats and the horses. I invite you to enjoy the images below of Sarava the horse and the “Sarava” chapeau he inspired that is up for bid from April 1st through the 11th on EBay – The Sarava Chapeau

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And until next time, thank you for visiting the Hats and Horses blog!



4 Replies to “On Derby Day, It’s All About the Hats… and the Horses”

  1. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your
    RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to
    new updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!


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