It’s time for the final auction hat of the season in the “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” fundraiser sponsored by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit the retired racehorses of Old Friends. The April hat now up for auction honors Kentucky-bred multiple graded stakes winner and millionaire, Geri.
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 well over $20,000 has been raised for the more than 120 retired racehorses now living at Old Friends.
The April auction chapeau honors a 22-year-old chestnut stallion, Geri. Returned from Europe in August, 2013 to retire to Old Friends, Geri became the sixth North American-bred stallion repatriated from stud duty overseas to retire at Old Friends. President and founder of Old Friends, Michael Blowen said it was a combined effort and determination to bring Geri home to Old Friends. “Two years ago, Sylvia Stiller, our office manager, visited Geri in Italy and adored him,” said Blowen. “I also remembered him very fondly as a gorgeous and successful race horse. I contacted Andrea Brancini at Horse America, the international equine shipping service, and he worked on all the arrangements once Geri became available.”
A description of Geri by volunteer Beth Shannon of Old Friends seems to fit him to a “t”. Shannon relates, “Geri was a multiple graded stakes winner (the 1996 Oaklawn Handicap, 1997 Woodbine Mile and Citation Handicap) who was lightning fast and one of the best of his time. He is exceptionally beautiful, with a refined head and a bright eye, graceful, always alert, always on the move, like a horse made out of air and fire. And Geri isn’t your typical all-American guy. He’s a world traveler, having lived in Japan and Italy for several years of his life.”
Right from the start I could see that a dramatic hat design was required with a unique blend of colors, tones and textures that would showcase Geri’s chestnut coloring along with the imagery of his status as a stallion with international connections and the Paulson racing silk colors of red, white and blue.
The foundation for the “Geri” design was fashioned out of a white dupioni silk. A rich red dupioni silk underbrim was added to create a vibrant, colorful effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.
A large Marguerite fleur was fashioned to adorn the front of the hat out of red silk organza for the petals and navy blue silk organza for the rose curl center. A large brassy button was stitched into the center of the rose curl.
Alternating layers of navy blue silk organza and deep green shantung were fashioned to create a bed of leaves to frame the rose curl.
A layered sash, created out of deep green shantung, navy satin and red and chocolate taffeta encircles the crown of the hat. At the back, a second Marguerite fleur adorns the sash with a brassy button at the center of the bloom.
Swirling layers of alternating chocolate brown and red tulle, encircle the crown to complete the trim. The finished “Geri” design measures approximately 19 inches end to end, inclusive of the fabric leaves and tulle layers that spill over the brim edge.
A pure white satin was used to create a lining to coordinate with the trims of the hat.
As a physical remembrance of Geri, several strands of the great stallion’s tail hairs will be braided and woven into the trim of the hat for the winning bidder, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Geri not only in spirit but in substance as well.
Before I knew it the hat was on its way to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot at Old Friends with Rosie Napravnik and Geri himself…
We have been thrilled all season long that jockey Rosie Napravnik has modeled the hats for us. “It has been not only great to be part of such a wonderful benefit for our Old Friends,” says Rosie, “but it’s also been a ton of fun doing the photo shoots with the horses and getting to know their awesome personalities!”
A big thank you also to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their photographic magic once again with this latest photo shoot. The dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Rosie matched the chapeau beautifully. Our thanks to all of them!
To experience a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the photo shoot, please visit the video footage provided by EquiSport Photos.
The “Geri” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends Friday night, April 11th at 8 PM EST.
For additional views of the “Geri”, please check out the slide show below of the “Geri” chapeau and the amazing racehorse who inspired it!
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses.
Welcome home, Geri!!