This past week has been a tough one as we lost two of the most beloved Old Friends retirees, Patton and Sunshine Forever.
For the past five years, Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement and I have teamed up for the “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” fundraiser. Each year I have the honor of creating six one of a kind Derby hats to celebrate the beauty and spirit of the retired racehorses at Old Friends which has included Patton and Sunshine Forever.
Kentucky-bred graded stakes winner Patton was retired to Dream Chase Farm in 2011 by Brereton C. Jones.
Multiple Grade 1 winner Sunshine Forever had been returned with paddock mate Creator to the U.S. by Old Friends in 2004 to enjoy their retirement at Dream Chase Farm.
In April 2010 I created a hat for Sunshine Forever whose name so captured his warm, radiant spirit. Sunshine raced under the Darby Dan silks of fawn and chocolate brown and won three Grade 1 races in a row: the Turf Classic at Belmont, the Man O’ War and the Budweiser International.
In December 2013 I created the “Patton” hat for Patton whose name belied his real nature. He was the kindest of horses and the truest of gentlemen, and his hat was modeled by Rosie Napravnik and photographed by EquiSport Photos.
We heard the news about Patton on the very day the “Patton” hat shipped to the winning bidder, Lynda St. Andre of Taunton, MA. Lynda asked me what made this hat so special. I told her, “It’s Patton; he’s what made it so special. I’m just the lucky milliner who got the chance to honor him.”
In both Sunshine and Patton you couldn’t have asked for two more perfect ambassadors for Old Friends. Horses like them are the reason people keep coming back to Dream Chase farm. And they will continue to come as the stories of Patton and Sunshine are shared, stories about two horses who were fortunate enough to come to this “horse heaven on earth” where they are given a safe place to retire with dignity and grace.
Sunshine, Patton, you will always be a part of Old Friends; its history and its heart. It was an honor to create hats for you. My life is richer for having known you in such a special way, from across the miles, as dear Old Friends.
Special thanks to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos, Rick Capone and Laura Battles for their beautiful images of Patton and Sunshine.
The “Patton” Chapeau
The “Sunshine Forever” Chapeau
‘Til next time, thank you for visiting Hats and Horses!