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.
Williamstown 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.
I 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…
When 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.”
My 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.
A unique black silk organza overlayer would lend added dimension, elegance and drama.Next, 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.
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…
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.
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and Hats Off to Williamstown!!