A Derby Chapeau for a Ziegfield Girl

We were saddened to hear that Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in Kentucky said goodbye this past week to another retiree: New York-bred graded stakes winner and New York’s 1997 Horse of the Year, Dancin’ Renee, who lost her long battle with laminitis at the age of 22.


Each year I look forward to Old Friends and MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® teaming up for our “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” fundraiser. It is a privilege to create six one of a kind Derby chapeaux every year to celebrate these retired racehorses at Dream Chase Farm who are given such a loving, dignified retirement after their racing days are over.

Although Old Friends is well known as a retirement facility that cares primarily for stallions, they have also been blessed with some pretty special ladies who have spent their retirement years there. Like Dancin’ Renee.

Retired to Dream Chase Farm in September 2012 by owner-breeder Sanford Bacon, upon her arrival Renee found a true friend in record-setting sprinter and broodmare, Klassy Briefcase, who had been at the farm since 2009. The two friends became inseparable.


On the day after she passed, Dancin’ Renee’s daughter by the great Limehouse, Risky Rachel, won the Minaret Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. A clearly emotional Bacon was quoted as saying, “Dancin’ Renee, who was named after my mother-in-law, a Ziegfeld girl, meant everything to us.”

In December 2012 I created the “Dancin’ Renee’ chapeau to honor this great athlete and broodmare for our “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser. With inspiration from the Ziegfield Follies and the lights of Broadway, the “Dancin’ Renee” hat is a unique blend of colors, tones and textures with the horse’s bay coloring boldly contrasting alongside Sanford Bacon’s stable colors of red, black, and white.


It was stated in her Old Friends bio that when Dancin’ Renee retired to Dream Chase  she had ”danced every dance and excelled at all that was asked of her”. A hat created to honor such a dancer had to be full of movement and dramatic flair. Indeed, it’s a hat that says, “It’s show time!”


A hat foundation was created using white dupioni silk with a delicate black lace border that spills over the brim edge and extends the overall length of the hat to nearly 21 inches.


Three ascending layers of ebony black and espresso chocolate tulle surround the entire brim, adding movement to the design. The overall effect represents this great muscled athlete stretching out at full gallop.


The hat’s centerpiece is comprised of a single elegant rose curl created out of swirling layers of bold red taffeta and cranberry red crinkled organza. Like the lights of Broadway, a single black jewel glitters in the center of the rose curl.


A spray of black silk organza “feathers” are the final Ziegfield-inspired flourish for this centerpiece and give the entire hat a feeling of excitement and pizzazz!


As a physical remembrance of Dancin’ Renee, several strands of the great mare’s tail hairs were braided and woven into the trim of the hat itself, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captured Dancin’ Renee not only in spirit but in substance as well.

Please enjoy this slideshow of the one of a kind Derby chapeau created to honor this very special mare. Special thanks to Rick Capone and Laura Battles for their beautiful images of Dancin’ Renee.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To learn more about Dancin’ Renee, please click on the Dancin’ Renee webpage found on the MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® website.

For information about our annual hat auction series, please visit the “Hats Off to the Horses” webpage. You can also learn about our previous hats at the Auction Hat Portfolio page.

‘Til next time, thank you for visiting Hats and Horses!



2 Replies to “A Derby Chapeau for a Ziegfield Girl”

  1. Such a beautiful design! And the wearer has a keepsake memento of her via the decorative tail hair What a brilliant idea! 👒


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