A Derby Chapeau for Tom’s Ready of Old Friends

For the thirteenth 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”!

An annual event, “Hats Off” features a series of four 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 second hat up for bid in our 2022 “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series for Old Friends honors Tom’s Ready.

Assistant farm manager at Ashton Grove farm, Marisa Miller with Tom’s Ready of Old Friends

Tom’s Ready is a Pennsylvania-bred gelding and multiple graded stakes winner who also contended in the 2016 Kentucky Derby. Tom’s Ready retired with over a million dollars in career earnings and arrived at Old Friends in November, 2020 courtesy of GMB Racing’s owner, Gayle Benson.

Tom’s Ready of Old Friends

This month we have a special message from Old Friends…

“As many of you may know, racing journalist Acacia Courtney has graciously modeled the Derby-style hats on the auction block in our “Hats off to the Horses” series. And we are so grateful to her. This month, we thought, who better to impart the true spirit of Old Friends and the distinct personalities of our beloved retirees than the hard-working ladies who care for them every day. So this month’s hat is dedicated to Tom’s Ready and is showcased by assistant farm manager, Marisa Miller who has just taken over management of our Ashton Grove Senior Living facility, where 14 of our horses share life with the senior residents there.”

Working at Old Friends is a dream come true. I love all the horses as if they were my own!” ~ Marisa Miller

Assistant farm manager at Ashton Grove farm, Marisa Miller with Tom’s Ready of Old Friends

President and Founder of Old Friends, Michael Blowen stated, “Old Friends is honored to care for Tom’s Ready. The stakes winning gelding is named after Tom Benson, the late husband of Gayle Benson. Mrs. Benson also owns the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans but I think the Thoroughbreds may be her favorite athletes. Tom’s Ready is as kind as he is handsome and a favorite among our many visitors.”

Indeed, a very special chapeau was needed to honor this beloved Thoroughbred athlete and to celebrate his retirement at Old Friends.

To learn more about Tom’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!

A Derby top hat design was created using a unique blend of colors, shades and textures that showcases Tom’s dark bay coloring, sweet temperament and his racing silk colors of soft light blue, gold and white (gold pom pom on cap) which were designed by GMB Racing to reflect the Virgin Mary’s garment colors as well as the stable’s Triple Crown ambitions.

The top hat foundation for the “Tom’s Ready” design was fashioned out of white dupioni silk.

Next, a tightly clustered medley of seven “variegated” roses was created out of alternating layers of pale blue and gold dupioni silk to adorn the front of the hat.

This unique floral centerpiece was framed with a sumptuous leaf medley created out of shimmering black-chocolate iridescent taffeta and gold organza to reflect the gelding’s coat colors.

Three gold organza “feather” accents were added as a final accent to the flower trim.

Yards of gold hat veiling were gathered and styled throughout this top hat design with a generous draping of the veiling across the front of the hat for a touch of mystery.

Soft blue dupioni silk was used to fashion a pleated sash that encircles the crown of the hat…

…and a medium size gold silk-lined bow with short pleated tails to adorn the back of the hat.

Three medium tails created in gold hat veiling provide the final accent for the bow.

The lining for the “Tom’s Ready” hat was created from white satin to blend with the entire chapeau design.

The “Tom’s Ready” hat is stunning from every angle and measures approximately 14 inches front to back (not including the veiling tails).

As a physical remembrance of Tom’s Ready, 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 Tom’s Ready not only in spirit but in substance as well.

Frankie (on right) with his buddy, Slew’s Brew

The hat was completed in early November, and was then shipped to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with this month’s model, Marisa .

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

Special thanks to Marisa Miller and to Laura Battles for her stunning images of Marisa and Tom’s Ready.

Marisa Miller with Tom’s Ready at Old Friends

The “Tom’s Ready” auction hat is now up for bid at this eBay link. All of the proceeds go to the retired racehorses of Old Friends. Bidding ends February 11th at 8 PM EST.

To learn more about Tom’s Ready, the horse, please visit the Tom’s Ready webpage.

For more information about the “Tom’s Ready” Chapeau please visit the Tom’s Ready hat webpage.


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