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.
Jockey Chris Landeros and his wife Shelby modeling the “Little Mike” hat at Old Friends.[/caption]
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.”
And she added, “ The only thing Little Mike isn’t, is little. He’s good sized and nicely proportioned. What’s not to love about such a sweet horse?”
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.
Next, a sketch of the hat was made, fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!
The foundation of the “Little Mike” hat was fashioned as a flat oval brim design created out of black dupioni silk.
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.
As a finishing touch, a fancy braiding of warm mocha chocolate was top stitched where the silk and organza layers meet the brim edge.
Carlo Vaccarezza’s distinctive black with orange stripe racing silks provided the basic color palette for the trimmings of this stunning Derby hat.
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.
The rose was beautifully framed with a medley of leaves fashioned out of black silk organza.
Mocha brown hat veiling was set behind the rose curl and leaves to offer a contrasting flourish with a touch of wispy elegance.
Ten slender black, chocolate brown and chocolate brown silk organza “feathers” were then gracefully shaped to help balance the trim design.
A layered sash, created out of black satin lined with coral orange shantung, was created to encircle the crown of the hat.
For the finishing touch, a large black pebble button was hand stitched to the back of the hat.
Finally, the lining was created from a swirling black brocade to coordinate with the trims.
The finished “Little Mike” hat design measures over 24 inches across inclusive of the ruffled organza brim layer.
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 Little Mike 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.
Soon 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!
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!
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!
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and here’s to our best auction season yet!
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.
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.
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.
Shelby: It was good! He was a little too feisty for me so we had to take photos on the other side of the fence.
Sally: 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.
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.
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.
Sally: 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.
Sally: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!