For the eighth consecutive year, Old Friends and MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® are teaming up for our “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” hat auction series that benefits the retired racehorses of Dream Chase Farm.
This month we are featuring the “Little Mike” chapeau. This one-of-a-kind couture Derby hat created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® honors 2012 Breeders Cup Turf and Arlington Million winner, Little Mike, who retired to Old Friends in 2016.
Named after owner Carlo Vaccarezza’s son, Little Mike was sired by Spanish Steps out of the mare Hay June whom Vaccarezza had rescued from the kill pen. To learn more about this great Florida-bred gelding who was bred by Carlo Vaccarezza, owned by his wife Priscilla and trained for most of his career by Dale Romans, please visit the Little Mike webpage.
When I asked Beth Shannon, volunteer at Old Friends, her impression of Little Mike she responded, “Little Mike is also an exceptionally kind horse. It took him all of fifteen minutes to figure out exactly what tours were all about. He gets along as easily with his new paddock mate Interwin as he does with people. His color isn’t flashy. He’s just a medium bay horse. But he’s got the look of the athlete he is. Of course, he was by far the best longer distance turf male in America in 2012, the year he won the Arlington Million and Breeders’ Cup Turf.”
Clearly, a very special hat was needed to honor this new retiree of Old Friends. The resulting hat design showcases Little Mike’s stunning bay coat, his familiar racing silk colors of black with orange stripes, and his kind spirit and athleticism.
To begin the design process I went online and watched videos of Little Mike’s wins on the track, and soon I had the background information that I needed.
The edge of the brim was trimmed with a unique ruffled brim edge which allows light to pass through the sheer fabric. Created out of a single layer of black silk organza, the resulting look is one of smooth elegance befitting this great Thoroughbred athlete.
The centerpiece is comprised of a single medium rose curl created in swirling layers of coral orange shantung and organza. A shimmering espresso button accents the center, a clear reflection of Little Mike’s soft brown eyes.
Ten slender black, chocolate brown and chocolate brown silk organza “feathers” were then gracefully shaped to help balance the trim design.
As a physical remembrance of Little Mike, 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 Little Mike not only in spirit but in substance as well.
The 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.
For 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 jockey Chris Landeros and his lovely wife, Shelby, who were splendid models for the “Little Mike” 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 Shelby matched the chapeau beautifully. Our thanks to all of you!
The “Little Mike” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends February 11th at 8 PM EST.
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Little Mike” chapeau and the horse who inspired it. For more information about the “Little Mike” Chapeau please visit the Little Mike hat webpage. To read more about Little Mike, the horse, please visit the Little Mike webpage.
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 second auction hat, inspired by Little Mike.
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!