Batter UP for Ball Four!

“Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” for Old Friends marches on into the New Year! In celebration of the Year of the Horse we present our February hat created to honor Old Friends retiree and graded stakes winner, Ball Four.

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Each year MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® creates a series of one of a kind Derby hats honoring selected Thoroughbred retirees at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement farm in KY. Then, each month, from November through April, one of the hats goes up for bid on Ebay with 100% of the proceeds going to Old Friends. To date over $19,000 has been raised.

To celebrate February we are featuring a Derby chapeau that honors graded stakes winner and Kentucky-bred Ball Four. The 13 year-old bay gelding was retired to Old Friends in 2011 thanks to Bruce Golden Racing and trainer David Jacobson.

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You might say that baseball has been a part of Ball Four’s life from the very beginning. Sired by Grand Slam and bred by Grand Slam Farm LLC (and B. D. Gibbs Farm), Ball Four caught the attention of ardent baseball fan and president of Old Friends, Michael Blowen, as Ball Four entered his eighth year of racing with surprising wins against the odds in several graded stakes races. Former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, author of the book Ball Four, attended the gelding’s retirement celebration in the paddock area at Keeneland on Blue Grass Stakes Day April 16th.

Ball Four is described by volunteer Beth Shannon of Old Friends as a horse with “an alert, perky eye… who’s always aware of what’s going on.” Beth said that there is a bit of whimsy about Ball Four’s appearance, adding that ”he always looks like he’s just stuck his nose in the snow or like a kid with vanilla ice cream on his nose and chin.”

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A chapeau full of energy and animation was needed to honor this accomplished equine athlete. Using a unique blend of colors and textures, I got to work designing an elegant Derby hat that reflected Ball Four’s bay coloring, spirited personality and the owners’ racing silk colors of black and hot pink.

As always, the entire MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® team got involved in the process of creation.

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The foundation for the “Ball Four” design was fashioned out of a rich black dupioni silk with a double black silk organza ruffled brim edge representing the undulating, rippling motion of the magnificently muscled Thoroughbred athlete stretched out at full gallop.

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A bold hot pink taffeta underbrim was added that beautifully frames the face.

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As a reflection of Ball’s Four’s name, four large rose curls were created out of alternating layers of fuchsia dupioni silk and hot pink organza and placed across the front of the hat; a medley of leaves in black silk organza frames each delicate rose.

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Yards of chocolate brown tulle were carefully layered around the crown to provide a setting for the roses; a hot pink taffeta sash with matching buttons provides the final touch to balance out the design.

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For the final touch and as a reflection of Ball Four’s shiny coat, a rich chocolate brown satin was used for the lining.

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At last the hat was finished and on its way to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with Rosie Napravnik and Ball Four…

We are thrilled that jockey Rosie Napravnik once again modeled the hat for us, and Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos worked their photographic magic. The dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Rosie matched the chapeau beautifully.

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The “Ball Four” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends Tuesday night, February 11th at 8 PM EST.

For additional views of the “Ball Four”, please check out the slideshow below of the “Ball Four” chapeau and the amazing racehorse who inspired it!

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For more information about the “Ball Four” Chapeau and the horse, please visit the Ball Four horse webpage and the “Ball Four” hat webpage for details.

You can also read about this Old Friends retiree at the Old Friends website.

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses.

BATTER UP!

Sally

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Author: hatsandhorses

Sally Faith Steinmann is the owner and designer of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS Custom Millinery. A native of Cape Cod, Sally creates couture hats for the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, Saratoga, weddings, teas, and garden parties. MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS sponsors "Hats Off to the Horses", an annual online Derby hat fundraiser for the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement facility in KY.

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