Here are some of the highlights from last year’s fundraiser that honored Old Friends retirees Silver Charm, Genuine Reward, Amazombie, Mixed Pleasure, Yankee Fourtune, and War Emblem.
Since Michael Blowen first founded Dream Chase Farm in 2003, Old Friends has made a lot of wonderful friends. Old Friends is well known in racing circles for the exceptional, dignified retirements that they give racehorses whose racing and breeding days are over.
I first approached Michael back in 2009 about my fundraising idea for creating and auctioning Derby hats to honor some of the amazing Old Friends retirees. I thought “Hats Off to the Horses” would be the perfect name for the fundraiser. Michael liked the idea and the name. After all, it’s the horses who are the ones we all need to be tipping our “hats” to as we creatively find ways to make sure they will always have a good home after their racing and breeding careers are over.
This season, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® 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.
Please join me in thanking the following organizations that have joined us whom we are thrilled to welcome as “Friends of Old Friends”!
Thank you “Friends of Old Friends”, one and ALL!
Bidding is now underway on EBay for our first auction hat of the season, the “Alphabet Soup” chapeau. Click HEREto bid, and thank you for your support for Old Friends!
Creating a hat to honor a living Thoroughbred athlete is not as easy as it may sound. Yet for six months out of the year this is my challenge and privilege as I create chapeaux to honor six amazing horses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in Kentucky during our “Hats Off to the Horses” Derby hat fundraiser.
From the outset I study photographs and race videos, and most especially ask those at Old Friends who care for the horses every day what makes each one special. As I work I don’t see just hats; I see Mixed Pleasure, Genuine Reward, Yankee Fourtune, Amazombie and Silver Charm.
Over time their spirits, their magnificent athletic beauty and their inspiring personal stories get stitched, layered and woven into each and every hat.
And now, this month, I see War Emblem.
I was over the moon when I heard that I would be creating a hat to honor this nearly black 2002 Derby and Preakness winner with such a strong physique and keen mind.
War Emblem was retired from stud duty in Japan in 2015 and arrived at Dream Chase Farm in September 2015 thanks to the Yoshida family, the staff of Shadai Stallion Station, Emanuel de Seroux and the many supporters who generously enabled his retirement.
I asked Beth Shannon, volunteer at Old Friends, her impression of War Emblem and she responded, “War Emblem is smart, proud, and fiercely independent. He’s extremely interested in all that goes on around him and everyone who’s in his immediate world. You can see him constantly watching and learning.”
And she added, “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.”
My research began with War Emblem’s racing bio, his pedigree and videos of his wins on the track.
Clearly a very special hat was needed to showcase War Emblem’s stunning nearly black coat, his familiar racing silk colors of green and white, and his proud spirit and athleticism.
Sketches were drawn, swatches collected and the creative process was underway!
The foundation of the “War Emblem” hat was fashioned as a wide brim design in black dupioni silk. A white brocade underbrim, edged with black taffeta, was added that frames the face beautifully when the wearer’s face is upturned.
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 black silk organza overlaid with black silk “pinstripes”, the resulting look is one of smooth elegance befitting this great Thoroughbred athlete.
As a reflection of his 2002 Triple Crown campaign, three large rose curls created out of alternating layers of white dupioni silk and silk organza with just a splash of soft yellow organza for the centers, were placed along the front crown of the hat.
Each rose was then framed with a medley of leaves that I fashioned out of layered emerald green and bold blue silk organza.
Shimmering black tulle was layered around the crown to provide a setting for the roses that is wispy and elegant as well as a reflection of War Emblem’s nearly black coat.
A layered sash, created out of folded black satin with an emerald green dupioni silk lining, was hand stitched around the crown of the hat.
For the finishing touch, a large black pebble button was set to adorn the back of the hat.
Finally, the lining was created from a bold emerald green satin to coordinate with the trims.
The finished “War Emblem” hat design measures over 30 inches across inclusive of the pleated organza brim layer.
Once the bidding ends and it is time to ship the hat to the winner, several strands of his tail hair will be braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures War Emblem not only in spirit but in substance as well.
Following a final inspection of the hat top to bottom here in our MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® studio and a quick photo session…
The “War Emblem” chapeau was prepped, packaged with care…
And sent to Old Friends for the big photo shoot with Shea and Julien Leparoux!
We were pleased to have Shea Leparoux once again modeling for us, this time donning the “War Emblem” hat at Old Friends alongside her husband, jockey Julien Leparoux.
For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the War Emblem photo shoot at Old Friends, check out the video footage below so generously provided by EquiSport Photos.
We want to extend a big thank you to Shea Leparoux and her husband, jockey Julien Leparoux who have been super models for our auction hats this season and to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their video and photographic magic once again. The gorgeous dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Shea matched the “War Emblem” hat beautifully. Our thanks to everyone!
The “War Emblem” auction hat is up for bid from April 1st through the 11th at this EBay link; bidding ends tonight, April 11th at 8 PM EST.
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “War Emblem” chapeau and the horse who inspired its creation.
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!
Since 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.”
I 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.
I 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.
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!
In 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.”
“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.”
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.
The 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.
Fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!
The 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.
A charcoal fancy braiding was top stitched to the ruffled brim edges and along the underbrim for the perfect finishing touches.
For the trim centerpiece I created a large single yellow dupioni silk and silk organza rose curl to adorn the front of the hat.
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.
Dozens 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.
A deep green dupioni silk sash, folded in layers, was fashioned to encircle the crown of the hat.
For a final touch, a large swirling silver and black button adorns the back.
A silver brocade was chosen for the lining of the “Silver Charm” and the MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® label was hand stitched into place.
As 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!
A 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!
The “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.
For our April auction we are putting up for bid a very special hat that honors the Florida-bred multiple stakes winner and super sire, You and I.
We continued our “Rosie and Friends” theme for the month of April and were pleased to have Shea Leparoux once again modeling for us, this time donning the “You and I” hat at Old Friends alongside her husband, jockey Julien Leparoux.
You and I’s racing career started off with a bang when he beat future 1994 Derby winner, Go For Gin, at Belmont Park in 1993. The following year You and I was sold to Edmund Gann Stables. There, under the watchful eye of trainer Bobby Frankel, he went on to victories in the Riva Ridge Stakes (G3), the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and the Brooklyn Handicap (G2).
Of special interest to all Old Friends fans was the 1993 Hutcheson Stakes race in which a 3-year old You and I came very close to beating Holy Bull and his future Old Friends paddock neighbor, Patton, in a thrilling 3-horse duel!
You and I is also the sire of the millionaire filly, You. All told, You and I sired 15 stakes winners that earned $12 million over their racing careers. He was, indeed, a super sire. You and I was donated by Woodstead Farm to Old Friends, Kentucky, in October 2011.
Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends, stated, “You And I has an elegant kind of beauty. He’s an independent spirit, but when he decides to socialize he’s easy-going and likes to interact, and he’s kind to children. As long as he’s respected. Receiving the respect he deserves matters to most stallions, and You And I is no exception. He’s cooperative, but likes to do things in his own way. When feed is brought to most of the horses, they’re right on top of it. Many race to the feed tub. You And I supervises the delivery of his meals with dignified interest, usually without bring in any rush to ‘come and get it.’ He comes over on his own time, and he eats what he wants, and no more. He knows what he’s doing apparently, since he keeps himself in great shape.”
A very special chapeau was needed to honor this accomplished racing star and celebrate his new life at Old Friends.
My research for creating the hat began with reviews of You and I’s victories, his pedigree and his racing connections.
Sketches were drafted and swatches were collected as I worked on a design that would showcase You and I’s gorgeous jet black coloring, his unique personality and Edmund A. Gann Stable’s racing silk colors of red and blue.
For starters I wanted to create a wide brim design with multiple organza brim layers for the basic foundation. I found the perfect red dupioni silk and matching red organza to achieve the design that I had in mind.
When I attached the brim pieces to the crown, I tiered the three layers to allow the light to shine through them for the fullest dramatic effect.
For the trim centerpiece I sculpted a large rose curl out of red silk organza. I then gathered the three organza brim layers and attached the rose curl trim to the upturned corner of the hat to frame the wearer’s face.
Next, I fashioned a medley of blue and sheer black organza leaves to frame the rose.
Finally, I created five curvaceous “feathers” out of black silk organza and three smaller blue organza leaf stems which I added to the trim centerpiece to give dimension and animation to the overall design.
A cobalt blue metallic taffeta sash, folded in layers, was made to encircle the crown of the hat.
For a final touch, a large black pebble button was stitched to the back.
To echo the trim elements on the front of the hat, all three brim layers were loosely gathered in the back of the hat and a medium rose curl and leaves were stitched down to hold them in place.
The lining of the “You and I” was created out of royal blue satin to reflect the racing silks of the Edmund A. Gann Stable.
The finished “You and I” design measures just over 25 inches across.
As a physical remembrance of You and I, 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 You and I not only in spirit but in substance as well.
Following a final inspection of the hat top to bottom here in our MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® studio, the “You and I” chapeau was off and running to Old Friends for the big photo shoot with Shea and Julien!
For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the You and I photo shoot at Old Friends, check out the video footage below so generously provided by EquiSport Photos.
We want to extend a big thank you to Shea Leparoux and her husband, jockey Julien Leparoux who have been super models for our auction hats this season and to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their video and photographic magic once again. The gorgeous blue dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Shea matched the “You and I” hat beautifully. Our thanks to everyone!
The “You and I” auction hat is up for bid from April 1st through the 11th at this You and I EBay link; bidding ends April 11th at 8 PM EST.
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “You and I” chapeau and the horse who inspired its creation.
The sixth hat up for bid in our “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series for Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement in Kentucky honors the Kentucky-bred multiple stakes winner, millionaire and California racing star, Rail Trip.
Rail Trip was definitely a California star. No one at Hollywood Park on July 11, 2009 will ever forget Rail Trip’s win in the TVG/Betfair Hollywood Gold Cup (G1). Rail Trip was retired by his owner, Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable, to Old Friends of Kentucky in January 2014.
Rail Trip was chosen to be our March horse for “Hats Off to the Horses”. We were so pleased to have Rosie Napravnik model the “Rail Trip” hat at Old Friends with her husband, Joe Sharp.
When I asked Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, what his impression was of his new retiree he stated, “Rail Trip is, well, a real trip. His sparkling racing career is a mirror of his great, supportive owner, Samantha Siegel. He’s a great companion for another Sally hat inspiration, Catlaunch.”
Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends, states, “Rail Trip? He really is a trip! He’s bright, active, young, and a total prima donna. He’s just a medium bay, but he’s gorgeous–so refined, so Thoroughbred-y. He’s friendly, curious, confident, a bit bossy, but a very nice horse. He’s a great favorite on the farm, and a favorite of photographer Laura Battles who we tease because she takes about 10 photos of “Tripper” for every 1 she takes of any other horse!”
A very special chapeau was needed to honor this beloved California star and celebrate his new life at Old Friends.
My research for creating the hat began with reviews of Rail Trip’s victories, his pedigree and his racing connections.
Sketches were made and swatches were collected for a design that would showcase Rail Trip’s golden bay coloring, his captivating personality and Jay Em Ess’s racing silk colors of bright green and blue.
In keeping with the spirit of the Jay Em Ess stable’s curvaceous “JMS” script lettering on their distinctive green and blue silks, I found the perfect sun-kissed apple green organza with a swirling bright green embroidery pattern which I laid over green taffeta.
To capture Rail Trip’s playful personality, I chose an asymmetrical shape for the foundation of the “Rail Trip” hat.
I found a chocolate brown dupioni silk for the underbrim that creates a vibrant, colorful effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.
For the trim centerpiece I began with a single medium sized rose curl which I created out of soft apple green organza. A delicate wisp of chocolate veiling and a tiny royal blue button accent the rose center.
I then crafted a series of bright blue organza “loops” to frame the rose, creating a kind of free form, colorful Marguerite.
A medley of “variegated” spring and apple green organza leaves complete the floral design.
The setting for this innovative floral creation is a large bow that I made out of chocolate taffeta. Four medium length tails, created in the same fabric, add a bit of dimension and elegance to the bow as they gently frame the wearer’s face. For a final touch to the centerpiece, five long, curvaceous “feathers” were created out of chocolate, black and deep blue organza and set behind the floral centerpiece to add dimension and a bit of playfulness to the overall design. Of all the trim elements, these playful feathers seem to most reflect Rail Trip’s buoyant and confident star personality.
A chocolate taffeta sash, folded in layers, encircles the crown of the hat; a large green button adorns the back.
I found the perfect rich royal blue swirling brocade for the lining as one more colorful reference to the Jay Em Ess racing silks.
The finished “Rail Trip” design measures approximately 24 inches across, inclusive of the trims.
As a physical remembrance of Rail Trip, 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 Rail Trip not only in spirit but in substance as well.
Following a final inspection of the hat top to bottom here in our MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® studio…
The “Rail Trip” chapeau was off and running to Old Friends for the big photo shoot with Rosie and Joe!
For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Rail Trip photo shoot at Old Friends, check out the video footage below so generously provided by EquiSport Photos.
We want to extend a big thank you to Rosie Napravnik and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp who have been super models for our auction hats this season and to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their video/photographic magic once again. The gorgeous blue dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Rosie matched the “Rail Trip” hat beautifully. Our thanks to everyone.
The “Rail Trip” auction hat is up for bid from March 1st through the 11th at this Rail Trip EBay link; bidding ends March 11th at 9 PM EST due to the time change.
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Rail Trip” chapeau and the horse who inspired its creation.