A Derby Hat for King Congie of Old Friends at Cabin Creek

For the tenth consecutive year, Old Friends and MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® are teaming up for the “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” hat auction series that benefits the retired racehorses of Dream Chase Farm.

This unique Derby hat fundraiser is an annual event which features one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created and donated by couture milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®. All proceeds go to benefit the retired racehorses of Old Friends.

The first hat up for bid in our annual 2019 Hats Off to the Horses auction series for Old Friends honors King Congie, a retiree at Old Friends’ satellite farm in New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division.

Newly-crowned Miss Connecticut USA 2019, Acacia Courtney modeling the “King Congie” chapeau.

Named for the beloved West Point employee, Congie DeVito, King Congie was owned and raced by West Point Thoroughbreds, winning 2 of 11 starts including the 2011 Tropical Park Derby. He was retired in April 2012 after a career-ending leg injury.  Just four years later the 8-year old gelding was discovered and rescued from an auction house in New York in 2016 by Rosemary Farm Sanctuary of the Catskills. West Point Thoroughbreds officially adopted King Congie and retired him to his safe, forever home at Old Friends at Cabin Creek in Greenfield Center, New York.

The “King Congie” hat auction marks the third time we are presenting a hat created to honor one of the Thoroughbred retirees of Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division. Named for the late Hall of Fame trainer, Bobby Frankel, Old Friends of Cabin Creek is located in Greenfield, New York. The farm is home to 14 retired racehorses under the care of JoAnn Pepper and her husband, Mark, along with the help of over a dozen devoted volunteers.

King Congie and his forever family at Old Friends at Cabin Creek

When I asked JoAnn Pepper her impression of King Congie she responded, “King Congie is amazing, very full of life. He seems to love all his brothers as he looks at them with meaningful eyes.”

“He loves to gallop a bit everyday. He also loves to sleep in his hay and snore. I think he is happy to be alive and seems to know he almost wasn’t. He is very loved!”

Clearly, a very special hat was needed to honor this friendly, popular retiree of Old Friends. The resulting hat design showcases Congie’s stunning dark bay coat, his West Point Thoroughbred racing silks of yellow and black, and his proud, friendly spirit.

But first, I needed to learn more about King Congie’s life and career. I went online for inspiration and watched videos of his wins on the track, studied his pedigree and his connections, and before I knew it I had the background information that I needed.

I began the creative process by making a rough sketch of the hat followed by selecting a mix of fabrics that I hoped would make the hat come to life.

The foundation of the “King Congie” hat was fashioned as a wide brim design created out of black dupioni silk.

A bold yellow dupioni silk underbrim creates a vibrant, colorful effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.

The edge of the brim was trimmed with a multi-layered organza brim edge which allows light to pass through the sheer fabric.

Using yards of black silk organza, these wavy brim layers were top stitched with chocolate embroidered strands to reflect the movement of the Thoroughbred athlete at full gallop.

A thin strip of fancy black braiding was then top stitched to the ruffled brim edges to give it a finished look.

For the trim centerpiece a large rose was sculpted out of alternating layers of yellow dupioni silk and chocolate organza as a tribute to Rosemary Farm Sanctuary for saving King Congie’s life in his 2016 rescue from the auction pen.

This floral centerpiece was then beautifully framed with a medley of chocolate embroidered organza leaves, individually wired and shaped.

Three medium fabric “feathers”, a MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® trademark, were then carefully stitched out of black silk organza, layered and shaped to add a splash of dramatic detail to the floral trim.

A sash was then created out of folded layers of chocolate satin with a yellow dupioni silk lining to encircle the crown of the hat.

For the finishing touch, a shimmering metallic chocolate button was stitched to adorn the back of the hat.

The lining for the “King Congie” hat, created from a silvery grey silk to reflect Congie’s lineage (Silver Deputy, Silveroo, Silver Valley, Silver Hawk), also reflects the Silver Lining Congie found the day he retired to Old Friends at Cabin Creek.

The finished “King Congie” hat design measures approximately 24 inches across, end to end.

As a physical remembrance of King Congie, several strands of his tail hair were braided and woven into the trim of the hat…

Creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures King Congie not only in spirit but in substance as well.

The purpose of this amazing millinery delight is to honor the life of King Congie and all of the horses who, thanks to the generosity of those who support their aftercare, now graze in the warm sunshine of Old Friends at Cabin Creek for the rest of their lives.

Hats Off to you, King Congie!

We want to extend a big thank you to newly-crowned Miss Connecticut USA 2019, Acacia Courtney, for modeling the “King Congie” chapeau as well as to Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography who worked her photographic magic for us at Old Friends Cabin Creek. We couldn’t have done it without you both!  😉

The “King Congie” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends Friday, January 12th at 8 PM EST.

Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “King Congie” chapeau and the horse who inspired it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’d also like to mention an exciting social media campaign that we are running for the third season in a row called, “Friends of Old Friends”. The following is this month’s “Friends of Old Friends” poster and we want to send a big thank you to all of the organizations that are participating and sharing the word about “Hats Off to the Horses”!

For more information about the “King Congie” Chapeau please visit the King Congie hat webpage. To read more about King Congie, the horse, please visit the King Congie webpage.

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and Hats off to YOU, King Congie!!



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