A Derby Chapeau for Einstein of Old Friends

For the eleventh consecutive year MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends have been teaming up for a unique online shopping experience called “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby”!

This year our Derby hat fundraiser began on January 1st and will come to a close on April 11th. An annual event, “Hats Off”  features one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit the retired racehorses of Old Friends.  All proceeds from the sale of the hats go to Old Friends.

The first hat up for bid in our “Hats Off” series for Old Friends  honors 17 year old Brazilian-bred son of Spend a Buck, Einstein who is one of the newest retirees at Dream Chase Farm.

Einstein with Old Friends artist, Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner

During his racing career from ages three through seven, the dark bay had Grade 1 and 2 stakes wins on turf, dirt and artificial surfaces over distances of 1 1/8 miles to more than a mile and a half.

Einstein was pensioned from stud duty at The Stronach Group’s Adena Springs in March of 2019 and retired by owner Frank Stronach to Old Friends.

John Bradley, a volunteer at Old Friends described Einstein in this way: “I guess I could explain why he’s my favorite racehorse ever. He always tried hard and even in defeat he gave his best. Not all horses have that competitive nature to try hard even when they know they aren’t going to win. Ten years later he’s retired to Old Friends and has really settled in well. He knows what he wants and how to get it. He sees many, many tourists and he really leaves quite an impression.”

Einstein with his best buddy, John Bradley

Michael echoed John’s praise of Einstein with the words, “Einstein is tall, dark and handsome. It doesn’t take a genius to appreciate Einstein.”

Einstein with President of Old Friends, Michael Blowen

Clearly, a very special one-of-a-kind hat was needed to honor this beloved new retiree of Old Friends.

To learn more about Einstein’s life I went online and watched videos of his life on the track, read articles about his career as a racehorse…

Next, a sketch of the hat was made, fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!

I needed a hat design that would showcase Einstein’s dark bay coat and use the red, black and gold racing silks of owner Stronach Stables as a recurring theme throughout the design.


A large hat foundation was created using a base layer of red dupioni silk overlaid with a swirling black paisley lace.

A red silk underbrim creates a bold, elegant effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.

The edge of the brim was trimmed with a double layer of black silk organza ruffles which allow the light to pass through the sheer fabric.

Next, I took a long strip of fancy black braiding and hand stitched it to the brim edge for an added bit of elegance.

To showcase Stronach’s stable colors, a large Marguerite fleur was created with red silk organza petals and a red dupioni rose curl center.

A black button with gold edging was added for a final accent to the flower.

Black silk organza leaves were stitched and added to framed the rose…

And gold silk organza was sewn and shaped into “bow loops” and set behind the leaves.

Three black silk organza “feathers” were added to the trim centerpiece to reflect Einstein’s bay coloring.

A black satin sash was stitched to encircle the crown of the hat…

And a black pebble button edged in gold to adorn the sash in the back.

The finished hat is stunning from every angle and measures approximately 21 inches end to end including the black silk organza ruffle!

The lining for the “Einstein” hat was created from a bold red satin to coordinate with the Marguerite floral trim.

As a physical remembrance of Einstein, 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 Einstein not only in spirit but in substance as well.

The hat was completed in early October, and was then shipped to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with our model, Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner!

And from all that I heard, everyone had a terrific time!

Einstein and Dagmar

Special thanks to artist Dagmar Galleithner-Steiner for being our wonderful model and to Old Friends volunteer and photographer Laura Battles who has thrilled us all with her stunning images!

The “Einstein” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and all the proceeds go to the retired racehorses of Old Friends. Bidding ends January 11th at 8 PM EST.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To learn more about the life, career and retirement of Einstein, please visit the Einstein horse webpage.

For more information about the “Einstein” Chapeau please visit the Einstein hat webpage.

Finally, we’d like to send a great big thank you to all of the “Friends of Old Friends” who are participating and sharing the word about “Hats Off to the Horses” this season through a very special social media campaign. Click on the poster below to learn more this effort that we introduced last season.

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and for supporting our “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser this year!


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