“Hats Off to the Horses” Welcomes Shelby and Chris Landeros!

“Hats Off to the Horses”, the annual Derby hat fundraiser that benefits the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in KY has kicked off Season 8 with its second hat up for bid to honor Florida bred 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf and Arlington Million winner, Little Mike!

littlemike-equisportphotos-3crop-web-med We are delighted this season to have jockey Chris Landeros and his wife Shelby joining our “Hats Off” team to model hats for us.

Shelby recently modeled the “Little Mike” chapeau during a very special photo session for the fundraiser at Old Friends in KY.

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Photo of Shelby Landeros by EquiSport Photos

Shelby’s husband, Chris Landeros, was born July 12, 1988. The son of CA trainer, Manuel Landeros, Chris is one of horse racing’s up and coming riders who began his riding career at Turf Paradise in Arizona. In 2015 Chris won the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) and Aristides (G3), both aboard Alsvid. In 2016 he had a North American career earning of over $24.5 million and 1,232 wins through September 29th.

Shelby Landeros is the daughter of winning Kentucky based trainer, Ian Wilkes who trained Fort Larned in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

I recently got the chance to interview Shelby and Chris following their photo shoot at Old Friends for the “Little Mike” chapeau.

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Sally: Shelby and Chris, our next hat up on the block for the February auction is the “Little Mike” chapeau which was one of the hats that you modeled at Old Friends Had either of you ever met Little Mike before?

Chris: No I hadn’t met him before the photo shoot.

Shelby: I had never met him, but I was at Santa Anita the year he won the Breeders’ Cup Turf. It was the same year my dad’s horse Fort Larned won the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Sally: How did the photo shoot go?

Chris: Great! I loved him. I thought he looked great. He was a lot of fun to be around.

littlemike-laurabattles-8-framed-web-medShelby: It was good! He was a little too feisty for me so we had to take photos on the other side of the fence.

littlemike-equisportphotos-1crop-web-medSally: Was this your first visit to Old Friends, and did you get a chance to meet any of the other retired racehorses while you were there?

Shelby: I had taken Chris one time before, and that was my third trip to Old Friends. We also met Danthebluegrassman.

Sally: Shelby and Chris, for those who are meeting you two here for the first time, where were each of you born and where did you grow up?

Chris: I was born in San Mateo, CA and grew up on the backside of Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields. I eventually moved to Arizona and started riding at Turf Paradise.

Shelby: I was born in Arlington Heights, IL but grew up for the most part in Louisville, KY. My parents are from Australia so we moved back there from 1990-1993 and then came back to the States.

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Shelby and Chris with Shelby’s dad Ian Wilkes, her mom Tracey and her brother Brodie

Sally: For each of you, what is your earliest memory of a horse?

Chris: I used to ride the ponies in the morning at the track with my dad.

Shelby: I’m not sure it’s my earliest memory, but I remember riding to and from the track in the mornings with my mom and dad on our old stable pony, Yukoner.

Sally: Did you both ride when you were little?

Chris: I rode at my mom’s ranch. She used to rehab racehorses.

Shelby: I didn’t ride seriously, but my best friend rode all the time and we would go out for trail rides. That’s the extent of my riding.

Sally: Chris, I read that you grew up in San Mateo, CA and that your father Manuel Landeros, trained horses in CA, and also that your grandparents Frank and Lynn Mitchell owned racehorses.

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Chris with his brother Stephen, and dad Manuel

Sally: It sounds like horse racing runs in your blood. When did you first realize that you wanted to be a jockey?

Chris: I knew I wanted to be a jockey at a very young age. I thought it was the coolest job.

shelby-chris-landeros-2Sally: Was there anyone in particular who inspired or helped you along the way in your career?

Chris: Garret Gomez. He was my idol and a very close friend. I still watch YouTube videos of his races to learn from him.

Sally: Given your family’s history, can you ever imagine training racehorses yourself?

Chris: Not right now, but you never know what the future holds. Right now I’m only worried about riding.

shelby-chris-landeros-5-web-medSally: I understand that you started riding at Turf Paradise (AZ) when you were just 17 and traveled between Arizona and California for a number of years until you started racing in Texas and Oklahoma. Were there any races in particular that were especially memorable to you?

Chris: Winning my first Grade III race, the John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston.

Sally: What goals or dreams do you have for the future?

Chris: I want to win a Breeders’ Cup race, and everyone’s dream is the Kentucky Derby.

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Chris and Shelby with 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah.

Sally: Chris, you have ridden some incredibly talented racehorses to victory over the years. Do you have any favorites?

Chris: There’s been many special ones, but Alsvid is one that stands out.

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Chris and a tiny fan he let wear his helmet after a stakes win on the filly Streamline

Sally: Being a jockey means early mornings and a lot of travel; what would be the perfect day for you?

Chris: My perfect day would be golfing, some blackjack, and then dinner with my wife.

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Wedding photo by Skip Dickstein

Sally: Shelby, you’ve had a long history with horses as well. Your dad, Ian Wilkes, is a trainer and it sounds like you’ve spent pretty much your whole life around horses and the track.  Were you ever involved in your dad’s training work?

Shelby: I hot walked for him for a little bit, but that’s about it.

Sally: Do you own any horses?

Shelby: No, not yet 🙂

Sally: Shelby, do you ride now?

Shelby: Not really. I’m the only one in the family who doesn’t ride.

Sally: Do you and Chris have any pets?

Shelby: We have a zoo! We have an English bulldog, a Great Dane, and two cats.

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Sally: I know you and Chris are very busy; what does the perfect day look like to you?

Shelby: I think my perfect day would just be relaxing at home with Chris.

Sally: Do you have any special dreams for the future, where you’d like to live, etc?

Shelby: I’d love to start a family soon! I like Louisville so I hope we can stay here for awhile.

Sally: Shelby and Chris, congratulations on your recent wedding celebration!

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Chris and Shelby’s wedding. Photo by Skip Dickstein

Sally: How did the two of you meet?

Chris: I rode a couple times for her dad in Indiana and decided to message her on Facebook.

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Chris winning on War Stroll trained by Shelby’s dad, Ian Wilkes. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Shelby: We met in person a few months later, and the rest is history!

Sally: I understand you are living in Kentucky now. Do you both travel when Chris has racing meets, and how does life in the Bluegrass State compare to California?

Shelby: We’re mainly in Kentucky, but I move to Arkansas with him in the winters. Sometimes if he travels for a big race I’ll go out of town.

Chris: They’re two different places. I prefer the Bluegrass State. I hope to raise my family here one day.

Sally: Shelby and Chris, after seeing Matt’s images from the big photo shoot at Old Friends, I have to tell you that you both look GREAT in hats!
Are you “hat people”?

Chris: I wear mostly baseball caps. Nothing fancy.

Shelby: I love fascinators! They’re easier to wear in big crowds.

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Shelby and Chris Landeros at Breeders’ Cup 2015 at Keeneland.

Sally: If so, where is your favorite place to wear a hat?

Shelby: Derby! 🙂

Sally: Shelby and Chris, people are going to be inspired by your support of Old Friends.

Sally: Why do you think it is important for us to support these retired Thoroughbred athletes, and do you have any suggestions for how people can get involved and participate in helping the retired racehorses?

Chris: For me as a jockey I appreciate each and every one of them. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing what I love.

Shelby: Obviously not everyone is in a position to take in a retired racehorse so the best way to get involved is to donate, if you’re able to, to organizations that help retired thoroughbreds. Or volunteer if possible helping care for the horses.

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Old Friends photo courtesy of EquiSport Photos

Sally: Shelby and Chris,  thanks again for helping us with our Eighth Annual “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series with the “Little Mike” chapeau. We are really fortunate to have you on board this year as part of our “Hats Off” team!

And to my readers, please enjoy this behind-the-scenes video from the “Little Mike” photo shoot with Chris and Shelby at Old Friends, a special treat from our friends Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos!

And thank you for visiting us today at Hats and Horses!

Sally

About the “Little Mike” Hat Auction:

The “Little Mike” auction hat is currently up for bid on EBay. Bidding ends Saturday, February 11th at 8 PM EST.

To learn more about Little Mike, the horse, please visit the Little Mike webpage. For more information about the “Little Mike” chapeau please visit the Little Mike hat webpage.

Note about Photography: All images that are shown here without credits have been provided with permission from the Landeros family.

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“Friends of Old Friends” Support Old Friends 2017 Derby Hat Auction

Welcome to our February “Hats Off to the Horses” auction for 2017 that honors 2012 Breeders Cup Turf and Arlington Million winner, Little Mike!

This season, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® has reached out to some of the friends of Old Friends to ask them for their support in helping to spread the word about “Hats Off to the Horses” this year.

Invitations were sent to a number of Thoroughbred horse farms and racing organizations across the country to join us in this new social media campaign.

For all those who decided to join us as a “Friend of Old Friends” we have added their business logos to our auction publicity which will showcase their support. In turn, during each of our four “Hats Off” auction months (January through April) all of the “Friends” will join with us in sharing the auction through their own social media channels.

We are hoping that this new social media participation will expand our audience for “Hats Off to the Horses” as well as generate greater concern for all horses everywhere.

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Please join me in thanking the following organizations that have joined us whom we are thrilled to welcome as “Friends of Old Friends”!

oldfriends-friendsofoldfriends-february2017-littlemikeposter2-web-medThank you “Friends of Old Friends”, one and ALL!

Bidding is now underway on EBay for our first auction hat of the season, the “Little Mike” chapeau. Click HERE to bid, and thank you for your support for Old Friends!

Sally

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The Alphabet Soup Chapeau – A Recipe of Love for a Sweet Old Friend

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

This year our unique Derby hat fundraiser begins on January 1st and continues all the way to the Derby. An annual event, it  features one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit the retired racehorses of Old Friends.

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-1-web-medWe are delighted to introduce a new group of models for our “Hats Off to the Horses” chapeaux this season! Please welcome Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court who helped modeling the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau for this first auction that started January 1st.

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-2crop-web-medThe first hat up for bid in our auction series honors Pennsylvania-bred Alphabet Soup, winner of the 1996 Breeders’ Cup with a stunning victory over the great racehorse, Cigar. To learn more about this champion, please visit the Alphabet Soup webpage.

alphabetsoup-rickcapone-1-framed-medWhen I asked Beth Shannon, volunteer at Old Friends, her impression of Alphabet Soup, she responded, “Oh, I can’t say too much about the kindness, the beauty, the personality of our wonderful Soup! In the 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic he and Louis Quatorze caught and passed the horse who’d been on the lead, Cigar was coming up like a cannonball, and Alphabet Soup gave it all he had, pushing his nose out on front of them all. It was one of the most exciting Classic finishes in Breeders’ Cup history!”

alphabetsoup-laurabattles-17-framed-medAnd she added, “He’s not only kind, he’s smart and fun to be around. His other striking quality, besides his spirit, is his athleticism. He keeps himself fit–he’s ruggedly gorgeous–and he glories in his speed at 17 as he did at 3.”

alphabetsoup-laurabattles-20-framed-medRight from the start I could see that a dramatic hat design was required for to reflect Alphabet Soup’s stunning pearl-white coat, his familiar racing silk colors of orange-red and sage green, and his proud spirit and athleticism.

As always, I went online and watched videos of Alphabet Soup’s wins on the track, and before I knew it I had the background information that I needed.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-1-blogNext, a sketch of the hat was made, fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-3-blogThe foundation of the “Alphabet Soup” hat was fashioned as a curved wide brim design created out of pearl-white dupioni silk.

alphabetsouphat-5-web-medA fancy grey braiding was hand stitched to the outer edge of the underbrim to reflect Alphabet Soup’s dark mane and tail when he was a young colt.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-10-blogYards of shimmering white and grey tulle were swirled together and layered around the crown, providing a bed for the roses that is wispy and elegant. It also reflects the color palette of Alphabet Soup’s changing coat over the years.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-10b-tulle-blogalphabetsoup-hatcreation-2-blogAnd the Alphabet Soup hat is covered in Derby ROSES!

alphabetsouphat-2-web-medInspired by the traditional Derby rose…

Each rose cluster, made up of three individual roses, was created in alternating layers of red China silk and silk organza.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-11-blogThe rose clusters were then framed with a medley of leaves fashioned out of tarragon green organza and sage crinkle organza, accented with sage green French ribbons.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-14-blogalphabetsoup-hatcreation-15-blogA sash, created out of deep olive green taffeta lined with tomato red taffeta, encircles the crown of the hat.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-16-blogOne more rose-and-leaves cluster adorns the back of the hat.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-12-blogAnd for the finishing touch, a large pewter pebble button adorns the back seam.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-17-blogThe “Alphabet Soup” hat is stunning from every angle with no details left untouched. The lining was created from a silver roses brocade to coordinate with the trims.

alphabetsouphat-18-web-medThe finished “Alphabet Soup” hat design measures over 23 inches across inclusive of the tulle.

alphabetsouphat-15-web-medAs a physical remembrance of Alphabet Soup, 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 Alphabet Soup not only in spirit but in substance as well.

alphabetsoup-hatcreation-21-horse-b-blogThe purpose of this amazing millinery delight is to honor the life of Alphabet Soup and all of the horses who, thanks to the generosity of those who support their aftercare, now graze in the warm sunshine of Dream Chase Farm for the rest of their lives.

alphabetsoup-laurabattles-17-framed-medSoon the hat was on its way to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with our models. And from all that I have heard,  they had one heck of a good time!

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-2crop-web-medFor a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the photo shoot, please visit the video footage provided by EquiSport Photos.

We want to extend a big thank you to Krystal, Jon and Aubrey Court who were splendid models for the Alphabet Soup chapeau as well as to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their photographic magic once again. The dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Krystal matched the chapeau beautifully. Our thanks to all of you!

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-3-web-medThe “Alphabet Soup” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends January 11th at 8 PM EST.

Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau and the horse who inspired it. For more information about the “Alphabet Soup” Chapeau please visit the Alphabet Soup hat webpage.

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We’d also like to mention an exciting new social media campaign that we are introducing for Season 8 called, “Friends of Old Friends”.

A number of Thoroughbred horse farms and racing organizations across the country were invited to join in the effort by helping us share the Hats Off auction publicity through their own social media channels. We hope that these wonderful Friends of Old Friends will enable us to expand the audience for “Hats Off to the Horses” as well as to generate greater concern for all horses everywhere.

The following is our “Friends of Old Friends” poster for sharing our first auction hat, inspired by the 1996 Breeders’ Cup winner, Alphabet Soup.

We extend a big thank you to all of the Friends of Old Friends that are participating and sharing the word about Hats Off to the Horses!

oldfriends-hatsoff-fof-2048x1499-200res-alphabetsoup-horizontal-final2-web-medThank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and here’s to our best auction season yet!

Sally

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“Hats Off to the Horses” Welcomes Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court!

“Hats Off to the Horses” has kicked off the New Year in style with its first hat up for bid that honors Pennsylvania-bred 1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Alphabet Soup!

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Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court with Alphabet Soup at Old Friends
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The “Alphabet Soup” Chapeau

We’re celebrating our eighth consecutive year of “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby”, an annual Derby hat fundraiser that benefits the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in KY, and and we are delighted this season to have jockey Jon Court, his wife Krystal and their daughter Aubrey joining our “Hats Off” team to model hats for us!

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Jon and Krystal Court

This month Krystal modeled the spectacular “Alphabet Soup” chapeau that you can read about by visiting the Alphabet Soup hat webpage.

Krystal’s husband, Jon, is one of horse racing’s leading riders.

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Jon Court with 2011 Derby mount, Archarcharch

Born in Gainesville, Florida, November 23, 1960, Jon began his riding career in 1980 at Centennial Park in Colorado and had his first win at the age of 19 aboard a horse named Nevada’s Hope. After a dozen years riding in Louisiana, Jon moved on to the Indiana and Kentucky racing circuits and was dominant at Hoosier Park between 1996 to 1998 with leading rider honors at Oaklawn in 2000. Jon’s achievements have included 2 Lone Star Derby victories, a 2003 Japan Cup Dirt win aboard Fleetstreet Dancer, back-to-back Arkansas Derby wins with Line of David and Archarcharch, a feature in the first season of Animal Plant’s reality documentary, Jockeys, and a Derby mount in the 2011 Run for the Roses riding Archarcharch for his father-in-law, Jinks Fires.

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Jon Court with his 2011 Kentucky Derby mount, Archarcharch, and trainer/father-in-law, Jinks Fires

Court has also served as secretary of the Jockeys’ Guild twice and earned the 2007 George Woolf Award. On September 17, 2016 Jon suffered a rib and vertebrae injury at Churchill Downs when he was just 6 wins short of 4,000 career wins. Yet he was back in the saddle by October and on December 3rd at the age of 56 claimed his 4,000th win at Turfway Park aboard the 3-year-old Florida-bred filly, City Without Pity.

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Photo by Coady Photography

Jon and Krystal were married in Arkansas and live in Shelbyville, Kentucky with their family. Krystal, the daughter of Oaklawn-based trainer Jinks Fires, has spent her entire life around horses and the race track.

Jon and Krystal’s 13-year-old daughter Aubrey joined us for the photo shoot, modeling a custom made hair ornament created to match the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau.

I recently got the chance to interview all three of them following their photo shoot at Old Friends.

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Jon, Krystal and Aubrey, welcome to my Hats and Horses blog!

We are thrilled to have you join our “Hats Off” team for our 8th straight year with the “Hats Off to the Horses” Derby hat auction fundraiser for the retired racehorses of Old Friends. I’m so glad I got the chance to catch up with you and ask you a few questions for this Q&A!

Sally: Jon and Krystal, for those who are meeting you two here for the first time, where were each of you born and where did you grow up?

Jon: I was born in Gainesville, FL, and I grew up on a farm in Seminole County, FL.

Krystal: I was born in Memphis, TN, because that was the closest hospital to Rivervale, Arkansas where my family lives.

Sally: For each of you, what is your earliest memory of a horse?

Jon: I watched a race, most likely the Kentucky Derby, when I was probably 3 or 4 years old on television and was hooked.

Krystal: My family has been in the racing business all my life, so I was on a horse as soon as I could sit up and hold on.

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Krystal Court and Commanding Arch

Sally: Did you both ride when you were little?

Jon: I started at 10 to ride by myself without an adult’s help.

Krystal: I always rode my Dad’s pony around the barn and would ride around my Grandparent’s farm in the summer.

Sally: Jon, when did you first realize that you wanted to be a jockey?

Jon: I always said I would be a jockey from an early age after watching a horse race.

Sally: Was there anyone who especially inspired or helped you along the way?

Jon: I had a variety of people who inspired me along the way.

Sally: I understand that you did a lot of your early riding in Louisiana. Later,  you won the Arkansas Derby with Line of David and then Archarcharch, and then got your first Derby mount in 2011 aboard Archarcharch.

Jon: I started riding in 1980 at Centennial race track in Littleton, Colorado, then went on to Louisiana.

Sally: You have ridden some incredibly talented racehorses to victory over the years. Do you have any special favorites?

Jon: Archarcharch, Wise Dan, Leroidesanimaux, and Fleetstreet Dancer.

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Jon Court winning the 2011 Arkansas Derby with Archarcharch

Sally: Have there been any races in particular that were especially memorable?

Jon: The Japan Cup Dirt in 2003 on Fleetstreet Dancer for the Leathermans was a memorable experience.

Sally: What goals or dreams do you have as a jockey for the future?

Jon: Jockeys always chase the Derby dream and the Triple Crown series along with the Breeders’ Cup and so on.

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Jon Court shown exercising 2011 Derby mount, Archarcharch

Sally: Is training racehorses something you could ever imagine yourself doing?

Jon: Yes, I could see myself training one day.

Sally: Being a jockey means early mornings and a lot of travel. What would be the perfect day to you?

Jon: Sleeping in and having breakfast with my girls.

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Jon Court with daughter, Aubrey

Sally: Krystal, you’ve had a long history with horses as well. Your dad, Jinks Fires, is an accomplished trainer and it sounds like you’ve spent pretty much your whole life around horses and the track. Were you ever involved in your dad’s training work?

Krystal: Not really, I have walked a lot of horses for him, after they came back from the track.

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Krystal Court’s Dad, trainer Jinks Fires, at Churchill Downs on Derby Day 2016 racing one of his horses

Sally: I read somewhere that you worked as a concierge in the suites for Churchill Downs; do you still work there?

Krystal: I work as the Jockey Club Suites Concierge when Churchill Downs is racing.

Sally: Krystal, you and Jon sound super busy with careers and family, what is your idea of the perfect day?

Krystal: My ideal of a perfect day is any day that I get to laugh and spend time with my family.

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Jinks Fires with Krystal’s daughter, Aubrey, and niece, Josey

Sally: You two were married in Hot Springs, Arkansas. What year was that?

Krystal: 1998

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Jon and Krystal Court at at a friend’s wedding reception in 2015

Sally: How did the two of you meet?

Krystal: At my father’s barn at Oaklawn Park, while I was walking a horse for my dad, in 1996.

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Jon and Krystal Court at the 2013 Breeders’ Cup

Sally: Where are you living now?

J&K: Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Sally: How many kids do you have besides Aubrey who looked so lovely modeling with you at Old Friends?

Krystal: Jon has 3 older children and my niece lives with us now. Josey is 14, so her and Aubrey are more like sisters then cousins.

courts-aubreyjoseyonbucky2Sally: Do you own any horses? Do you have other pets?

J&K: We have owned a couple of race horses, but none now. We have a sweet, female miniature Schnauzer named Pepper.

Sally: Our first hat up on the block for the January auction is the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau which is one of the hats that you modeled at Old Friends. Had either of you ever met Alphabet Soup before the photo shoot? How did the photo shoot go?… It looked like a lot of fun!

Jon: Never met Alphabet Soup. However, I was aware of him and was thoroughly impressed with him after the photo shoot.

alphabetsoup-rickcapone-1-framed-medSally: Aubrey, I understand that the October 17th photo shoot date was your 13th birthday as well. What did you think of Alphabet Soup?

Aubrey: It was really fun to do the photo shoot on my birthday and Alphabet Soup is a beautiful horse.

Sally: Did you get a chance to meet Little Silver Charm or any of the other horses while you were there at Dream Chase farm?

Aubrey: Unfortunately, not.

Sally: Do you ride?

Aubrey: Yes, almost every chance I get, but not racehorses.

Sally: How do you like being a hat model?

Aubrey: I loved it!

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-3-crop-blogSally: You all look GREAT in hats! Do you think of yourselves as “hat people”? Where is your favorite place to wear a hat (other than on a horse wearing a racing helmet)?

Jon: I occasionally wear a hat, more during the winter.

Krystal: I love wearing hats, especially to big races, during the colder months and to protect my face in the summer.

Aubrey: I consider myself a hat person most times, and my favorite place to wear a hat is in public!

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Krystal and Aubrey, 2016 Derby

Sally: I am sure that people are going to be inspired by your support of Old Friends. Why do you think it’s important for us to support these retired Thoroughbred athletes, and do you have any suggestions for how people can get involved and participate in helping the retired racehorses?

Jon and Krystal: These beautiful equine athletes have given there all for us and deserve a wonderful retirement. We have found that if people know there is a need, they will help as much as possible. So you only need to spread the word and people’s natural generosity will do the rest. We believe they do an excellent job at Old Friends and we really appreciate all their efforts.

Sally: Krystal, Jon and Aubrey, thanks again for helping us with our Eighth Annual “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series with the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau. We are really fortunate to have you on board this year as part of our “Hats Off” team!

alphabetsoup-equisportphotos-2crop-web-medAnd to my readers, please enjoy this “behind-the-scenes” video from the “Alphabet Soup” photo shoot with Jon, Krystal and Aubrey Court at Old Friends, a special treat from our friends Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos!

Happy New Year everybody!

Sally

About the auction:

The “Alphabet Soup” auction hat is currently up for bid on EBay. Bidding ends Wednesday, January 11th at 8 PM EST.

To learn more about Alphabet Soup, the horse, please visit the Alphabet Soup webpage. For more information about the “Alphabet Soup” Chapeau please visit the Alphabet Soup hat webpage.

Note about Photography: All images that are shown here without credits have been provided with permission from the Court family.

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Help Us Ring in the New Year for Old Friends

I can’t think of a better way to begin the New Year…

hatsoff-alphabetsoup-january2016-comingsoonThan by bidding on a one of a kind couture chapeau that supports the retired racehorses of Old Friends in KY!

alphabetsouphat-15-web-medThis special hat was created by custom milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® for the “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser to honor 1996 Breeders’ Cup champ, Alphabet Soup. Best of all, 100% of the proceeds go straight to Old Friends.

So mark it on your calendars and tell all your friends who are looking for the perfect Derby hat that the bidding starts January 1st at 8 PM EST.

For more information and to learn more about the first hat please visit the Alphabet Soup Hat webpage.

And help us start the New Year off on the right hoof for the amazing horses of Old Friends!  😉

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Red Roses and Stars for Amazombie of Old Friends

“Amazombie” is our fourth hat in this season’s “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby”; no chapeau could better sum up my starstruck feelings for the Kentucky Derby and Old Friends than this hat that features both red Derby roses and stars!

Amazombie-Rosie-Joe-Carson-MattWooley4-crop-Web.LgAmazombie, bred in California by Gregg Anderson and owned by Thomas C. Sanford & William Spawr,  won the 2011 Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter honors after winning the Sunshine Millions Sprint, the Tiznow Stakes, the Potrero Grande Handicap and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

The 10 year-old  gelding was retired to Old Friends in May, 2014 thanks to the help of his owner, Bill Spawr.

Amazombie-ArrivalDay-RickCapone1-Framed-Web.Med
Amazombie arriving at Old Friends in May, 2014

To inspire me in the creation of the “Amazombie” hat, I called upon Old Friends volunteers Beth Shannon and John Bradley to tell me about the personality and spirit of the horse.

Beth described Amazombie in this way: “He has a grace about him that’s lovely to watch, such a refined horse. Beautiful, classy, spunky but kind, curious, smart, friendly, and he’s got gorgeous big kind eyes.”

Amazombie-Horse-MattWooley6-Framed-Web.MedShe continued, “He’s Rapid Redux’s best buddy. He’s not at all big-headed about being a champion, unlike his best buddy who hams it with relish for anybody who’ll watch him. Amazombie is happy to go along and get along, but he’s not a pushover. He can stand up for himself.”

Amazombie-RapidRedux-LauraBattles2-Framed-Web.MedJohn Bradley underscored the connection between Amazombie and Rapid Redux. “I think it is an important part of the story. When he (Amazombie) was first paired with Rapid, he was second fiddle. However, that didn’t last for long. Amazombie stood his ground, stood up for himself and showed Rapid he was his equal. He gained Rapid’s respect. Now they are the best of friends, but are also like brothers when they play. They pull off each other’s halters and have daily running sessions all around their paddock. It is a joy to watch them just have fun being horses.”

Amazombie-RapidRedux-LauraBattles12-Framed-Web.MedRight from the start I could see that a very special chapeau was needed to honor this accomplished equine athlete and celebrate his new life at Old Friends. An elegant Derby design was created with a unique blend of colors, shades and textures that showcases Amazombie’s medium bay coloring, kind temperament and his racing silk colors of white, red and black.

I went online and printed out Amazombie’s racing bio, watched videos of his wins on the track, and soon I had the background information that I needed.

Amazombie-HatProcess1-Web.MedSketches were drawn…

Amazombie-HatProcess4-Web.MedFabrics were chosen…

Amazombie-HatProcess3-Web.MedAnd the creative process was underway!

The “Amazombie” hat was created with a new tapered wide brim design using white dupioni silk for the foundation with a black lip edge.

Amazombie-HatProcess5-Web.MedA black and white polka dot fabric was used for the underbrim to create a vibrant, colorful effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.

Amazombie-HatProcess6-Web.MedThe effect, to me, is of twinkling stars shining in the night sky over Dream Chase Farm.

AmazombieHat4-Web.MedNext, seven roses were handcrafted out of red silk organza to reflect Amazombie’s post position number seven when he won the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 2011.

Amazombie-HatProcess9-Web.MedEach rose curl was framed with a dash of wispy chocolate tulle and a medley of black silk organza leaves.

Amazombie-HatProcess10-Web.MedThe seven rose curl clusters were then evenly hand stitched along the edge of the brim so that the roses could be seen all around as the hat is turned.

Amazombie-HatProcess11-Web.MedAmazombieHat1B-Web.MedA sash was created out of black silk organza that was layered, top stitched  and carefully sewn around the crown.

Amazombie-HatProcess12-Web.MedTo balance the drama of the roses, a large triple layer bow with three tails was created out of black silk organza and set on the back of the hat.

Amazombie-HatProcess13-Web.MedMedium length organza tails were fashioned so that they spilled over the edge of the brim.

Amazombie-HatProcess14-Web.MedA chocolate metallic taffeta was chosen for the lining of the “Amazombie” to match the gelding’s bay coat.

Amazombie-HatProcess8-Web.MedAs a physical remembrance of Amazombie, several strands of the gelding’s tail hair were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Amazombie not only in spirit but in substance as well.

The finished hat was photographed in our studio, packaged with care…

Amazombie-HatProcess15-Web.MedAnd shipped on its way to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with Rosie Napravnik and her family!

Amazombie-Rosie-Joe-Carson-MattWooley1-Web.LgA special thank you to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who once again worked their photographic magic that day. And a big thank you as well to Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky for furnishing the stunning silver dress that Rosie wore which beautifully matched the chapeau. You can view it all in this behind-the-scenes glimpse of the photo shoot by Wendy…

Special thanks to Rosie Napravnik and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, for being such super models, and their little boy Carson who simply stole the show in his new fedora from the new “Little Silver Charm Kids’ Hat Collection”!

Amazombie-Rosie-Joe-Carson-MattWooley1-Crop-Web.LgThe “Amazombie” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends Thursday, February 11th at 8 PM EST.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and here’s to Amazombie and all the horses of Old Friends!  🙂

Sally

About the Auction:

To learn more about Yankee Fourtune, the horse, please visit the Amazombie horse webpage.

For more information about the “Yankee Fourtune” Chapeau please visit the Amazombie hat webpage.

Welcome Home, Silver Charm

The day of Silver Charm’s arrival at Old Friends Equine was anything but picture perfect. A cold rain had been falling and the early December air had turned chilly and dank.

Yet there was nothing Mother Nature could have thrown at those assembled in the Big Barn that would have dampened their spirits.

After all, it was the day that Silver Charm, the 1997 Derby winner and Hall of Famer, was coming home to Old Friends!

Blog-SilverCharm-Horse21-Web.MedSince Silver Charm’s 2005 departure for stud duty in Japan, President and founder of Old Friends, Michael Blowen, had been steadfastly working to eventually bring Silver Charm home to Dream Chase Farm once his breeding career was over.

And in October, 2014, Blowen got the call he’d long been hoping for.

In an October 29th Bloodhorse article Michael stated, “It’s totally unbelievable. A few days ago I got a call from Sandy Hatfield (stallion manager) over at Three Chimneys and she said, ‘Do you have room over there for a gray stallion that needs a home?’ And I freaked out. It’s a great story of cooperation among Three Chimneys, the JBBA, the Lewises, and then finally to us.”

Blog-SilverCharm-Horse22-Web.MedI can still see Michael’s face in the photos of Silver Charm’s arrival at Old Friends that day. Oblivious to the rain and with a smile that would light up the world, Michael was holding in his hands the great stallion’s halter given to him many years before by Sandy Hatfield after Silver Charm left for Japan.

And in one of those rare and cosmic alignments of horses and the people who love them, Silver Charm was getting the chance to once again wear the treasured halter. It was a dream come true for Blowen.

Blog-SilverCharm-Horse23-Web.MedBlog-SilverCharm-Horse20-MattWooley-Web.MedI was thrilled when Michael asked me to create a hat to honor this great stallion for our next “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser. And as we begin this year’s fundraising campaign, the “Silver Charm” chapeau is leading the way!

“Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” enters its 7th season this year as Old Friends Equine and MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® team up once again for the 6-month Derby hat fundraiser. Starting this month and leading all the way to the Derby, six one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® will honor six Old Friends retirees with 100% of the auction proceeds to benefit the retired racehorses of Dream Chase farm.

Blog-SilverCharmHat2-Web.Med This year we are delighted once again to have retired jockey Rosie Napravnik modeling our “Hats Off to the Horses” chapeaux for us. Five months ago, Rosie and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, welcomed a baby boy named Carson into the world, and I was thrilled when Rosie said yes to including him in the “Silver Charm” photo shoot!

Blog-SilverCharm-Rosie2-Web.MedIn order to create a hat to honor such an esteemed champion, one who breathes that rarefied air known to only a very few equine athletes in horse racing history, I wanted to know what the great horse was like in person.

Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends who has come to know the great grey since his arrival states, “Silver Charm knows who he is. He’s one of the proudest horses I’ve ever known, but he’s gracious.”

Blog-SilverCharm-Horse-RickCapone6-Framed

“He understands that people feel privileged to be around him,” Beth continued, “And he goes out of his way to share his presence and kindness. His intelligence is awe-inspiring, too. His mom, Bonnie’s Poker, lived with us in her old age and was loved by us all. Silver Charm has a different kind of presence. He commands respect at once, but the love he inspires just keeps growing and growing with time.”

Blog-SilverCharm-Horse31-MattWooley-Web.Med
Jockey Gary Stevens reunites with Silver Charm at Old Friends.

To honor this accomplished Thoroughbred athlete and to celebrate his new life at Old Friends, I next went online to find Silver Charm’s racing bio and videos of his wins on the track.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process1The design would showcase Silver Charm’s stunning grey coat, now mostly white, his unique personality and Bob & Beverly Lewis’s familiar racing silk colors of yellow and green.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process2Fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process3AThe look needed to be grand, and an extra wide brim design was fashioned using silver dupioni silk.

Three varying shades of gray and white silk organza were used to create ruffled outer brim layers to reflect the transformation of the stallion’s coat colors from a rich dappled grey to nearly white.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process6D2A charcoal fancy braiding was top stitched to the ruffled brim edges and along the underbrim for the perfect finishing touches.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process7For the trim centerpiece I created a large single yellow dupioni silk and silk organza rose curl to adorn the front of the hat.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process8 A medley of spring green dupioni silk and organza leaves, individually wired and shaped, were fashioned to frame the rose. “Bow loops” created out of wispy gray hat veiling were set behind the leaves for a touch of soft, wispy elegance.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process9Dozens of long slender gray, white and charcoal silk organza “feathers”, a MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® trademark, were carefully stitched, layered and then shaped to frame the face when the hat is worn.

Blog-SilverCharmHat5A-Web.MedA deep green dupioni silk sash, folded in layers, was fashioned to encircle the crown of the hat.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process12DFor a final touch, a large swirling silver and black button adorns the back.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process13A silver brocade was chosen for the lining of the “Silver Charm” and the MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® label was hand stitched into place.

Blog-SilverCharmHat-Process5BAs a physical remembrance of Silver Charm, several strands of the stallion’s tail hair were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Silver Charm not only in spirit but in substance as well.

The finished hat was photographed and shipped on its way to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with Rosie Napravnik and her family!

Blog-SilverCharm-Rosie1-Web.MedA special thank you to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who once again worked their photographic magic that day. And a big thank you as well to Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky for furnishing the dress that Rosie wore which beautifully matched the chapeau. You can view it all in this behind-the-scenes glimpse of the photo shoot by Wendy…

Special thanks to Rosie Napravnik and her husband Joe, such splendid models, and their little boy Carson who simply stole the show!

Blog-SilverCharm-Rosie3-Web.MedThe “Silver Charm” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends Wednesday, November 11th at 8 PM EST.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To learn more about Silver Charm, the horse, please visit the Silver Charm webpage.

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

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and here’s to our best auction season yet!

Sally