Derby Hat Countdown with MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® – Day 23

Welcome to the 2017 Derby Hat Countdown with MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®!

Today I am featuring Hat #23,  courtesy of Leigh McKathan of McKathan Brothers Training Center wearing her “Teddy” top hat design to last year’s Kentucky Oaks. Created in a mix of red and fuchsia silks, this hat is perfect for the Oaks or the Derby and is found in the The Rosie Signature Hat Collection that helps to support the retired racehorses of Old Friends in KY.

For more Kentucky Oaks and Derby hat ideas, please visit my 4 Derby Hat Salons at The Derby Hat Collection by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®.

Only 22 Derby chapeaux and 22 days to go ’til the 143rd Kentucky Derby!





The Daily Topper from MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® – June 7, 2016

Welcome to The Daily Topper with MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®!

Today we are showcasing the second of our “Hats Off to the Horses” chapeaux making their debuts in the Big Apple for the 148th Belmont Stakes! The “War Emblem” chapeau was this year’s April auction with all of the proceeds going to the retired racehorses of Old Friends.

TheDailyTopper-June7-2016-BlogThis one of a kind Derby hat was created to honor a beloved retiree of Old Friends – Kentucky-bred 2002 Derby and Preakness winner, War Emblem, who recently retired to Old Friends.  ❤

WarEmblem-LauraBattles30-Framed-MedThe winning bidder of the “War Emblem” was Leigh McKathan of McKathan Brothers Training Center in Ocala, FL, wonderful supporters of our “Hats Off” campaign for Old Friends!

Blog-LeighMcKathan6-PendArmistead-Derby2015We’ll be posting photos here on Belmont Stakes Day so stay tuned!  😉

Thank you for visiting me here for The Daily Topper at Hats and Horses!


Looking Back – Reflections on a Crown, Part II

Preakness Day arrived and the second jewel in the Triple Crown was on the line for American Pharoah.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles32-FramedWith a forecast for thunderstorms at post time, the stage was set for some high Triple Crown drama; the crowd was filled with anticipation.

All day long, my wonderful Preakness hat customers sent me photos from Pimlico racetrack which helped to ease the tension that I was feeling.

As predicted, a thunderstorm hit just prior to the race. By the time of the post parade you could barely make out the shapes of the horses in the wind-driven rain. Everyone wondered, Will they cancel the race?

Then, just as the last horse had been loaded into the gate we heard the announcer exclaim that a lightning bolt was seen in the skies over Pimlico. The next thing we knew, the gate flew open and the race was on!

Fortunately, American Pharoah seemed to relish the mud. Breaking from the No. 1 post position, Pharoah grabbed the lead going into the first turn and never let it go. Wire-to-wire, he and Victor crossed the Preakness finish line seven lengths ahead of Tale of Verve with barely a speck of mud on them and Pharoah’s ears straight up.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles29-FramedIt seemed that even Mother Nature could not thwart this horse’s talents or derail his team’s quest for glory. Against all odds American Pharoah appeared to be marching firmly toward Triple Crown history.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles21-FramedFollowing the race I received a surprise email from Leigh McKathan, my Derby customer whose family had originally trained American Pharoah in Ocala, Florida. People were still commenting about the “Trisha’s Zophie” hat I created for her Derby adventure, and Leigh asked if I would create the “Darby” hat for the Belmont.

My “Darby” was going to the Big Apple; my Triple Crown story was not over!

Blog-DarbyDer102-001BWeb.LgAmerican Pharoah’s story thus far had been an amazing one. And now, two jewels were in his pocket, with one remaining.

But was he good enough? Could American Pharoah take this all the way and win the third jewel and the Triple Crown?

We were all about to find out at Belmont Park where my “Darby” chapeau was along for the ride!

Please visit me again soon for Part 3 of “Reflections on a Crown”.


This is Part II in a 3-part series.

To view the the first part of “Reflections on a Crown – Part I”

Looking Back – Reflections on a Crown, Part I

It was a beautiful June day in the Big Apple and American Pharoah was poised in the starting gate at the Belmont Stakes, set to begin the final leg of the Triple Crown.

For a moment, we all held our breath; no horse had captured the elusive ‘Crown since Affirmed did it in 1978. Was the impossible dream possible?

And moments later as American Pharoah neared the finish line you could hear the collective roar of an entire nation as the 37-year-long drought came to an end and he became the 12th Triple Crown winner in American horse racing history!

Blog-AmericanPharoah-LydiaWilliams2In the days that have passed since the race I have had a chance to think about the enormity of what American Pharoah and his team accomplished that day at Belmont Park.

As amazing as it was, crossing the finish line first wasn’t American Pharoah’s only achievement. Long before he had won the big race, this stunning bay colt with the short tail and long, buoyant stride had already won our hearts.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-LydiaWilliams3-FramedThroughout the Triple Crown season, on social media and in countless interviews, the Zayat family owners and trainer Bob Baffert had continuously invited us in to get to know their once in a lifetime racehorse.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles15-FramedBlog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles24-FramedWe became enamored with this sweet colt’s kindness and incredible poise.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles5-FramedAnd somewhere along the way, American Pharoah became our horse, America’s horse.

Like the great Seabiscuit before him, he was a horse that we had come to care about. We were pulling for him to win and make the dream of a Triple Crown come true.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles23-FramedI am one of those people that was drawn to American Pharoah, and I’d like to share my very special connection with his Triple Crown journey.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles28-FramedI grew up in a family where we watched the Triple Crown races every spring. I’ve cheered on Triple Crown hopefuls all the way from Majestic Prince to California Chrome.

I have also been sending hats to the Triple Crown races ever since I started my couture millinery business in 1998 and have had the thrill of seeing my hats make it to the winner’s circle.

But it has always been my dream that someday one of my hats would be there at Belmont Park to see some special horse finally win that Triple Crown.

In March this year I received an email from a woman named Leigh McKathan. Leigh was in love with one of my cocktail hats, the “Trisha’s Zophie”, which she wanted to wear at the Derby.

Blog-TrishasZophieDer89-002E-Web.Lg Leigh’s husband, JB McKathan, Jr., and his brother Kevin, own and operate the McKathan Brothers Training Center near Ocala, Florida, and two of the horses they had trained as 2-year-olds were heading to the Derby.

One of the horses was Mr. Z. The other horse was American Pharoah.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-ChurchillDownsMay2015-LauraBattles20-FramedWith great anticipation I created Leigh’s hat for the first Saturday in May.

On Derby Day, Leigh sent me photos of her and JB at Churchill Downs as they nervously awaited the call to the post. Leigh looked stunning in her “Trisha’s Zophie”, so perfectly coordinated with her dress, handbag and shoes!

Blog-LeighMcKathan1-Derby2015-FramedMuch to my delight, I found out later that my little chapeau even took part in the traditional Derby walkover prior to the race. I still get goosebumps when I think about being part of this historic parade and I am so grateful to Leigh for capturing the moment and sharing it with me.

Blog-AmericanPharoah8-2015DerbyWalkover-LeighMcKathan-FramedBlog-AmericanPharoah6-2015DerbyWalkover-LeighMcKathan-FramedAmerican Pharoah’s victory in the first jewel of the Triple Crown was not an easy one. Overcoming a tough post position and the Derby stampede at the start of the race, the son of Pioneer of the Nile had to dig deep as jockey Victor Espinoza urged him on.

At the top of the stretch, Pharoah and Espinoza swung wide but somehow, together, they finally managed to pull away from Dortmund and then shake free a surprisingly game Firing Line to win the day.

In a message sent to me from her iPhone Leigh wrote just two words, “Lucky hat!” I couldn’t stop smiling as I thought of my chapeau, there in the winner’s circle as American Pharoah received his blanket of roses to the cheers of the crowd.

Blog-AmericanPharoah-2015DerbyWinnersCircle2-LeighMcKathan-FramedBlog-AmericanPharoah-2015DerbyWinnersCircle-LeighMcKathan-FramedIt was so wonderful to see Leigh’s smile as she and her family beamed in the winner’s circle! And there was my hat, making me feel like I was right there with them…

Blog-LeighMcKathan6-PendArmistead-Derby2015Two days later I received an email from Leigh. American Pharoah was heading to the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness, and she asked if I would I have time to create another hat for her. She wanted the “Darby” in bold yellow and red silks.

Blog-DarbyDer102-001AWeb.Lg With only a few days to pull it off, I got out the rolls of fabric and made the preliminary cuts for the “Darby” design so that I would be good to go as soon as Leigh’s payment arrived.

Blog-Darby-HatProcess1Unfortunately it was not to be. Leigh wrote to let me know that she and JB would not be able to attend the Preakness.

I looked over at the already-cut pieces of yellow dupioni silk sitting on my cutting table, all pinned and ready to go.

Perhaps my “Darby” was meant for another race?

Please visit me again soon for Part 2 of “Reflections on a Crown”!


This is Part I in a 3-part series