California Star Inspires “Hats Off to the Horses” Creation

The sixth 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 winner, millionaire and California racing star, Rail Trip.

Blog-RailTrip-LauraBattles1-Framed-MedRail Trip was definitely a California star. No one at Hollywood Park on July 11, 2009 will ever forget Rail Trip’s win in the TVG/Betfair Hollywood Gold Cup (G1). Rail Trip was retired by his owner, Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable, to Old Friends of Kentucky in January 2014.

Rail Trip was chosen to be our March horse for “Hats Off to the Horses”. We were so pleased to have Rosie Napravnik model the “Rail Trip” hat at Old Friends with her husband, Joe Sharp.


When I asked Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, what his impression was of his new retiree he stated, “Rail Trip is, well, a real trip. His sparkling racing career is a mirror of his great, supportive owner, Samantha Siegel. He’s a great companion for another Sally hat inspiration, Catlaunch.”

Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends, states, “Rail Trip? He really is a trip! He’s bright, active, young, and a total prima donna. He’s just a medium bay, but he’s gorgeous–so refined, so Thoroughbred-y. He’s friendly, curious, confident, a bit bossy, but a very nice horse. He’s a great favorite on the farm, and a favorite of photographer Laura Battles who we tease because she takes about 10 photos of “Tripper” for every 1 she takes of any other horse!”

A very special chapeau was needed to honor this beloved California star and celebrate his new life at Old Friends.

My research for creating the hat began with reviews of Rail Trip’s victories, his pedigree and his racing connections.

Blog-RailTrip-Process1-Web.MedSketches were made and swatches were collected for a design that would showcase Rail Trip’s golden bay coloring, his captivating personality and Jay Em Ess’s racing silk colors of bright green and blue.

Blog-RailTrip-Process6-Web.MedIn keeping with the spirit of the Jay Em Ess stable’s curvaceous “JMS” script lettering on their distinctive green and blue silks, I found the perfect sun-kissed apple green organza with a swirling bright green embroidery pattern which I laid over green taffeta.

Blog-RailTrip-Process3-Web.MedTo capture Rail Trip’s playful personality,  I chose an asymmetrical shape for the foundation of the “Rail Trip” hat.

I found a chocolate brown dupioni silk for the underbrim that creates a vibrant, colorful effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.

Blog-RailTripHat4-Web.MedFor the trim centerpiece I began with a single medium sized rose curl which I created out of soft apple green organza. A delicate wisp of chocolate veiling and a tiny royal blue button accent the rose center.

Blog-RailTrip-Process7-Web.MedI then crafted a series of bright blue organza “loops” to frame the rose, creating a kind of free form, colorful Marguerite.

Blog-RailTrip-Process8-Web.MedA medley of “variegated” spring and apple green organza leaves complete the floral design.

The setting for this innovative floral creation is a large bow that I made out of chocolate taffeta. Four medium length tails, created in the same fabric, add a bit of dimension and elegance to the bow as they gently frame the wearer’s face. Blog-RailTripHat10-Web.MedFor a final touch to the centerpiece, five long, curvaceous “feathers” were created out of chocolate, black and deep blue organza and set behind the floral centerpiece to add dimension and a bit of playfulness to the overall design. Of all the trim elements, these playful feathers seem to most reflect Rail Trip’s buoyant and confident star personality.

Blog-RailTrip-Process10-Web.MedA chocolate taffeta sash, folded in layers, encircles the crown of the hat; a large green button adorns the back.

Blog-RailTrip-Process11-Web.MedI found the perfect rich royal blue swirling brocade for the lining as one more colorful reference to the Jay Em Ess racing silks.

Blog-RailTrip-Process12-Web.MedThe finished “Rail Trip” design measures approximately 24 inches across, inclusive of the trims.

Blog-RailTripHat1-Web.MedAs a physical remembrance of Rail Trip, several strands of the gelding’s tail hair were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Rail Trip not only in spirit but in substance as well.

Following a final inspection of the hat top to bottom here in our MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® studio…

Blog-RailTrip-Process13-Web.LgThe “Rail Trip” chapeau was off and running to Old Friends for the big photo shoot with Rosie and Joe!

For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Rail Trip 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 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 gorgeous blue dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Rosie matched the “Rail Trip” hat beautifully. Our thanks to everyone.

The “Rail Trip” auction hat is up for bid from March 1st through the 11th at this Rail Trip  EBay link; bidding ends March 11th at 9 PM EST due to the time change.

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

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

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and Hats Off to Rail Trip!!



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