Reflections on a Crown – Part III

My “Darby” hat was going to the Belmont to help Leigh McKathan and her husband JB cheer on American Pharoah for the last leg of the Triple Crown!

The idea that this tiny cocktail could be the hat to see a Triple Crown champion crowned made me want to savor every single moment of its creation.

Blog-DarbyDer102-001AWeb.Lg But win or lose, American Pharoah was already a hero to me and every inch of this hat was going to have my admiration for him stitched into it.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles17-FramedI got the yellow dupioni silk foundation underway.


Next, three red rose curls, shaped out of silk organza. They reminded me of the three jewels of the Triple Crown as I clustered them together for the center of the trim design.

Blog-Darby-HatProcess3ABlog-Darby-HatProcess3B-copy Four silk organza “feathers” came next, wired for shaping.

Blog-Darby-HatProcess5AA multi-layered bow in red silk organza was created and added.

Curly organza tails were next. I attached them so they spilled off the back of the hat, reminding me of Pharoah’s short tail swirling behind him when he runs.

Blog-Darby-HatProcess9Red veiling was used to drape across the front of the hat.

Blog-Darby-HatProcess12BIn a departure from the original Darby trim design, I chose to add three instead of two red accent buttons in honor of American Pharoah’s Triple Crown bid.

Blog-Darby-HatProcess15Two for the roses…

Blog-Darby-HatProcess15AAnd one for the back of the hat.
Blog-Darby-HatProcess17For the finishing touches, a lining was created from red satin and the label was hand stitched into place.

Blog-Darby-HatProcess18 It was time to send the “Darby” to Leigh and JB in the Big Apple!

Blog-Darby-HatProcess23Belmont day dawned, bathed in an almost storybook sunshine.

It was American Pharoah’s chance to prove whether he was a really good racehorse or a truly great one.

Leigh looked amazing in her “Darby” cocktail hat and matching yellow Dooney & Bourke handbag. I could not have felt more proud…

Blog-LeighMcMathan-Belmont2015-AmericanPharoah3-FramedBefore we knew it, the moment of the big race had arrived.

American Pharoah shifted back in the starting gate just before it opened and his break was a fraction slow. But Victor Espinoza quickly hustled his mount to the front, and going into the first turn you could see Pharoah’s big bay ears pointing straight up as he led the field onto the backstretch.

At the top of the stretch where we had seen so many good horses run out of steam in the past, American Pharoah found another gear and actually accelerated in the final quarter. There were challenges but somewhere down that long homestretch it became clear that American Pharoah was the horse and nothing was going to stop him.

Long before Pharoah even crossed that finish line, one could hear the screams, “He did it, he DID it!

Blog-AmericanPharoah-LydiaWilliams1Leigh sent me photos of their moments following the race. I was so thrilled to see my “Darby” part of every magical moment…
Blog-LeighMcMathan-Belmont2015-AmericanPharoah1-FramedBlog-LeighMcMathan-Belmont2015-AmericanPharoah2-FramedEmbraced by a nation, American Pharoah had become America’s hero. Proving all the experts wrong, he mended our broken hearts about Triple Crowns of the past and gave us back a future where Triple Crowns are possible again.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-StephenFosterNight-LauraBattles1-Framed American Pharoah, Seabiscuit, Secretariat…

Why are we so passionately drawn to our truly great equine champions?

Perhaps watching our heroes struggle, dig deep and grab a hold of that something intangible that makes them win, makes us reflect back on our own lives, inspiring us to think again about some old dream we shoved aside because we were told long ago that it would never come true.

Maybe what we really saw in American Pharoah’s Triple Crown achievement is not only his quest but our own secret longing to still achieve our impossible dream.

And now, because of a horse named American Pharoah, we have seen the spark of that dream come alive again…

In the reflections on a Crown.

AmericanPharoah-BelmontStakes2015-Horse-and-TrophyThank you, Leigh McKathan, for making my own “impossible” dream of someday seeing a hat of mine at Belmont Park for the crowning of a new Triple Crown champion, come true.

And thank you, American Pharoah!


This is Part III in a 3-part series.

To view the other 2 parts of “Reflections on a Crown”  – Part I” Part II


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