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 2021 “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series for Old Friends honors Afleet Accompli, the Kentucky-bred son of 2005 Preakness-Belmont winner Afleet Alex.
Afleet raced for seven seasons in both the U.S. and Puerto Rico and was multiple graded stakes placed with 63 starts; 14 wins, 17 2nds, 11 3rds and career earnings of $196,310. Retired in 2019 due to a career-ending suspensory injury, Afleet Accompli found safe haven with the Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare (CTA), an aftercare organization that works to retrain and rehome horses in Puerto Rico and other islands. CTA co-founder Kelley Stobie personally cared for the horse until space became available at Old Friends in August 2020 when he was shipped to Kentucky as a donation from CTA
When I asked Michael Blowen, President of Old Friends what he wanted people to know about this special new arrival he stated, “Afleet Accompli may not have accomplished much on the racetrack but he certainly ended up in life’s winners circle when discovered by all the wonderful people at Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare. He’s now a Gr.1 retiree with a hat to match.”
Clearly, a very special one-of-a-kind hat was needed to honor this beloved new retiree of Old Friends.
To learn more about Afleet’s life I went online and watched videos of his life on the track and 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!
The green and yellow racing silks of the Canito Racing racing stable in Puerto Rico inspired a tropical island palette for the trimmings of this stunning Derby hat and are the recurring theme throughout the design.
For starters, a large hat foundation was created using a stunning coral taffeta.
The edge of the brim was trimmed with a triple layer of organza ruffles which allows the light to pass through the sheer fabric. Yards of chocolate organza lined with coral organza were used to create these wavy brim layers which were then top stitched with coral embroidered strands to reflect the rippling 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.
To showcase Canito Racing’s stable colors, a large rose curl created in alternating layers of coral shantung and hot pink organza adorns the front of the hat.
This floral centerpiece is framed with leaves created out of lime green organza and taffeta.
For a final element in the floral centerpiece, a sprawling medley of aquamarine, yellow, hot pink and sky blue organza “feathers” were added to the crown.
A lime green taffeta sash lined with organza was fashioned to encircle the crown of the hat…
And a small peach button adorns the sash in the back.
The hat is stunning from every angle and measures approximately 23 inches end to end including the organza ruffle brim!
The lining for the “Afleet Accompli” hat was created from a scrumptious chocolate taffeta to reflect the gelding’s beautiful coat.
As a physical remembrance of Afleet Accompli, 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 Afleet Accompli 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 featured 2021 model, Acacia Courtney!
And from all that I heard, everyone had a terrific time!
Special thanks to Acacia Courtney, Gulfstream Park and New York Racing Association paddock reporter and host of the America’s Day at the Races for modeling the hat. And thank you also to Old Friends volunteer and photographer, Laura Battles for her stunning images!
The “Afleet Accompli” 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.
To learn more about the life, career and retirement of Afleet Accompli, please visit the Afleet Accompli horse webpage.
For more information about the “Afleet Accompli” Chapeau please visit the Afleet Accompli 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 about this effort that we introduced several years ago.
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and for supporting our “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser this year!