Rosie Napravnik Dons Williamstown Derby Hat to Support Old Friends

The fifth hat up for bid in our “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series for Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in Kentucky honors the Kentucky-bred multiple stakes-winning stallion and son of the great Seattle Slew, Williamstown.

Blog-Williamstown12-MattWendyWooleyWilliamstown is perhaps best known in racing circles for having run one of the fastest miles in history in the 1993 Withers Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. “Willie” retired to Old Friends in 2007 at the age of 17 having sired 15 stakes winners, including graded winner Vinemeister.

Blog-Williamstown-RosieandJoe-OldFriends4I had wanted to create a hat for Williamstown ever since I started doing this Derby hat auction fundraiser for Old Friends. Years ago I had seen a photo shoot of Willie done at Old Friends by Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos. Not only were the images stunning, but there was just something about this great black stallion that pulled me in and made me want to get to know him better…

Blog-Williamstown7-MattWendyWooleyWhen I asked Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, his impression of Williamstown you could tell that he’d been starstruck, too. “I visited Williamstown many years ago at Saratoga when Pete Vestal trained him,” recalled Michael. “I didn’t dream that many years later, he’d be living with me. The great son of Seattle Slew lives right across from one of Secretariat’s greatest sons, Tinner’s Way.”

Old Friends volunteer, Beth Shannon, was once again my trusty muse as I tried to get to the heart of this great stallion.  “Williamstown is quite flashy,” stated Beth, “with chrome on all four legs and a broad blaze that goes down to cover his whole muzzle. He’s also got a vivid, distinctive eye much like Seattle Slew’s other son, A. P. Indy – an eye with the white showing, like a human eye. Williamstown  is full of dignity and surprises; self sufficient but surprisingly friendly to those who are willing to take the time to get to know him.”

Blog-Williamstown4-MattWendyWooleyMy research for creating the hat continued with reviews of Williamstown’s victories, his pedigree and his racing connections. The creative pistons were firing as I sketched ideas for a hat that would showcase Willie’s black with white markings, his friendly personality and those fabulous Willmott racing silk colors of bright pastel yellow and deep plum purple.

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess2I searched through stacks of fabric and found the perfect colors, one by one.

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess1C To capture Williamstown’s strong yet elegant physique, I decided to create a wide brim hat foundation out of black dupioni silk, giving it a round, sheer silk organza crown.

Blog-WilliamstownHat11A unique black silk organza overlayer would lend added dimension, elegance and drama.Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess3Next, I found some black and white striped ribbon and fashioned a band to encircle the sheer crown of the hat and give it some structure as well as color and design.

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess5 I found a bright yellow taffeta and two shades of yellow organza and fashioned three medium size rose curls…

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess7Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess8… and I found the perfect plum and purple organzas to create a variegated medley of leaves to frame each of the roses.

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess6Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess10I adorned the front of the hat with my three rose and leaf clusters, placing them in sweeping cascade down along the brim.

Blog-WilliamstownHat7BFor a final touch to the centerpiece, I created eight long, curvaceous “feathers” out of black and white silk organza which I set behind the rose curl centerpiece to frame the wearer’s face.

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess12ABlog-WilliamstownHat3Finally, a black pebble button was hand stitched to the back of the hat as a stunning accent.

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess13The finished “Williamstown” design measures approximately 22 inches across, inclusive of the “feathers”.

Blog-WilliamstownHat1A As a physical remembrance of Williamstown, several strands of the great stallion’s tail hairs were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Williamstown not only in spirit but in substance as well.

Following a photo shoot here in our MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® studio…

Blog-Williamstown-HatProcess15The “Williamstown” chapeau was off and running to Old Friends for the big photo shoot with Rosie and Joe!

Blog-Williamstown-RosieandJoe-OldFriends1For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Williamstown photo shoot at Old Friends, check out the video footage below so generously provided by EquiSport Photos.

We want to extend a big thank you to newly retired jockey Rosie Napravnik and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp who have been super models for our auction hats this season and to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their video/photographic magic once again. The dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Rosie matched the “Williamstown” hat beautifully. Our thanks to you all!

The “Williamstown” auction hat is up for bid staring February 1st at this Williamstown  EBay link; bidding ends February 11th at 8 PM EST.

Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Williamstown” chapeau and the horse who inspired its creation.

For more information, please visit the Williamstown hat webpage and also the Williamstown horse webpage at

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and Hats Off to Williamstown!!



2 Replies to “Rosie Napravnik Dons Williamstown Derby Hat to Support Old Friends”

  1. This hat is so beautiful. I love everything about it and it brought tears to my eyes to know that strands of his tail hairs were woven and braided into the trim. Oh how wonderful it would be to know that a little bit of him is always with you. Thank you for what you do for Old Friends.


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