Welcome to the 2017 Derby Hat Countdown with MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®!
Today I am featuring Hat #4, the “Jordan” wide brim Derby chapeau. Created in a mix of red and black dupioni silks, this hat is found in the The Rosie Signature Hat Collection. This very special hat collection was inspired by retired jockey, Rosie Napravnik, and 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 3 Derby chapeaux and 3 days to go ’til the 143rd Kentucky Derby!
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!
This month we are featuring the “Zippy Chippy” chapeau as the third hat in our auction series. This one-of-a-kind couture Derby hat created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® honors horse racing celebrity, Zippy Chippy, who retired to Old Friends’ satellite farm in New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division , in 2010.
Described as “the most famous maiden in American horse racing history”, this dark bay gelding may have had a 0 for 100 record but his many adoring fans will tell you that he is living proof that not all winners finish first. In 2000, People Magazine voted Zippy Chippy one of the year’s “Most Intriguing Characters.” In April 2010, Zippy was retired to Old Friends at Cabin Creek thanks to the generous help of his longtime owner-trainer, Felix Montserrate.
The Zippy Chippy hat auction marks the second time we are presenting a hat created to honor one of the Thoroughbred retirees of Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division. Named for the late Hall of Fame trainer, Bobby Frankel, Old Friends at Cabin Creek is located in Greenfield, New York. The farm is home to 14 retired racehorses under the care of JoAnn Pepper and her husband, Mark, along with the help of over a dozen devoted volunteers.
When I asked JoAnn Pepper her impression of Zippy Chippy she responded, “Zippy is unique in a great way and he means a lot to us here. He has taught us so much. His friendship with Red (Red Down South, another retiree) is inspiring. He listens to Red, his buddy, for guidance.”
And she added, “He has changed a lot since arriving here over 7 yrs ago. I think he is very content… as long as we don’t ask him to do much!”
Clearly, a very special hat was needed to honor this charming retiree of Old Friends!
To begin the design process I went online and read accounts of Zippy Chippy’s racing days and connections, 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 “Zippy Chippy” hat was fashioned as a wide brim design created out of white dupioni silk.
The edge of the brim was trimmed with a unique double organza brim edge which allows light to pass through the sheer fabric.
Created out of royal blue silk organza and topstitched with dozens of swirling white and chocolate embroidered strands to reflect Zippy’s 100 races, these shimmering blue layers convey the motion of the Thoroughbred athlete at a full rolling gallop.
A thin strip of fancy white braiding top stitched to the ruffled brim edges was added to give it a finished look.
For the trim centerpiece, a large peony flower was sculpted out of white silk organza for the petals, each petal individually wired and shaped.
The center of the peony is a rose curl that was fashioned out of alternating layers of red dupioni silk and silk organza with a luminescent red button for accent. This single red rose was created to honor the special friendship that Zippy Chippy shares with his best buddy at Old Friends Cabin Creek, Red (Down South).
This floral centerpiece was then framed with a medley of royal blue silk organza leaves, individually wired and shaped.
Long fabric “feathers”, a MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® trademark, were then carefully stitched out of white, royal blue and chocolate organza, layered and shaped to add a splash of dramatic detail to the floral trim.
A sash was created out of folded layers of royal blue silk organza to encircle the crown of the hat.
For the finishing touch, a handcrafted button created out of 100 luminescent chocolate seed beads reflecting Zippy Chippy’s famed 100 starts, was fashioned to adorn a small blue silk organza bow on the back of the hat. A fitting jewel for a horse whose wins are defined not by his trips to the winner’s circle but by the many hearts he has won with his story.
The finished “Zippy Chippy” hat design measures approximately 24 inches across inclusive of the embroidered blue organza brim layer.
As a physical remembrance of Zippy Chippy, 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 Zippy Chippy not only in spirit but in substance as well.
The purpose of this amazing millinery delight is to honor the life of Zippy Chippy and all of the horses who, thanks to the generosity of those who support their aftercare, now graze in the warm sunshine of Old Friends Cabin Creek for the rest of their lives.
And from all that I have heard, it sounded like everyone at Old Friends Cabin Creek in New York had one heck of a good time at the photo shoot – especially Zippy!
We want to extend a big thank you to TV analyst from Gulfstream Park and former Miss Connecticut, Acacia Courtney, for modeling the “Zippy Chippy” chapeau as well as to Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography who worked her photographic magic for us at Old Friends Cabin Creek. We couldn’t have done it without you! 😉
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Zippy Chippy” chapeau and the horse who inspired it.
We’d also like to mention an exciting new social media campaign that we are introducing for Season 8 called, “Friends of Old Friends”. The following is this month’s “Friends of Old Friends” poster and we want to send a big thank you to all of the organizations that are participating and sharing the word about “Hats Off to the Horses”!
Described as “the most famous maiden in American horse racing history”, this dark bay gelding may have had a 0 for 100 record but his many adoring fans will tell you that he is living proof that not all winners finish first. To read more about Zippy, please visit the Zippy Chippy webpage.
It’s been a year full of surprises in our “Hats Off” fundraiser. This month we are delighted to have TV analyst at Gulfstream Park and former Miss Connecticut (2014-2015), Acacia Courtney joining our “Hats Off” team to model hats for us. Acacia modeled the spectacular “Zippy Chippy” chapeau at Old Friends’ satellite farm in New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek.
Originally from Connecticut, 23-year-old Acacia Courtney has worn many hats during her 23 years! A horse lover ever since she was a little girl, Acacia grew up around horses and trained in the hunter/jumper and dressage disciplines. She is a graduate of Fordham University with a major in Communications (Journalism concentration). She is also a dancer, trained specifically in ballet, jazz/musical theater, and ballroom dancing. In 2011 Acacia founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Racing for Home Inc. which is dedicated to retraining OTTBs for new careers after the racetrack. Acacia was Miss Connecticut from June 2014 to June 2015, and as a titleholder in the Miss America Organization she was an Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Acacia has worked for America’s Best Racing, HRN and currently Gulfstream Park Casino, covering racing events like the Kentucky Derby, the Dubai World Cup, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the Breeders’ Cup.
I recently got the chance to interview Acacia following her photo shoot at Old Friends Cabin Creek for the “Zippy Chippy” chapeau.
Sally: Acacia, welcome to my Hats and Horses blog! Old Friends and I are thrilled to have you join our “Hats Off” team this year, and I’m so glad I got the chance to catch up with you and ask you a few questions for this Q&A. Acacia, for those who are meeting you here for the first time, where were you born and where did you grow up?
Acacia: I was born and raised in Connecticut.
Sally: What is your earliest memory of a horse (or pony)?
Acacia: I remember going on a pony ride at a birthday party when I was very young, maybe around 5 years old. There still is a photo of it on our fridge.
Sally: Did you ride or own horses when you were little or as a young adult?
Acacia: Yes, I started taking riding lessons when I was about 8. I was also dancing and playing piano at the time, and had a very busy childhood! I did horse shows, studying hunter jumper and dressage disciplines. I leased a mare named Miss Kitty growing up, and the first Thoroughbred I rode was an OTTB named Siren, whom I absolutely adored. The first horse my family got (my mom rides as well) was in 2009 – an OTTB from Suffolk Downs named Palace Diva, and she’s still, and always will be, with us.
Sally: Acacia, you graduated from Fordham University with a major in Communications in December 2015. How long have you been a dancer and where did you receive your training? Were there any dancers who especially inspired you?
Acacia: I started taking dance lessons at 3 years old at the Hartford Ballet School. As I got older and more involved in dance, I started taking some lessons in New York City, and eventually studied at Steps on Broadway in the pre-professional program, as well as the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Theatre schools. I performed and competed in ballet, jazz/musical theater, and ballroom (International Latin). I always loved watching Yulia Zagoruychenko, who became an International Latin world champion with her partner Riccardo Cocchi, and she was also a teacher of mine.
Sally: You were also Miss Connecticut (June 2014 – June 2015) during which time you were the Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as a titleholder in the Miss America Organization and a top-15 semifinalist at Miss America. How did that all come about for you, and what was the experience like?
Acacia: I won Miss CT in my fourth year competing for the state title, and during that time, being Miss CT was pretty much my full time job. I took a leave of absence from college and traveled the state of CT speaking at schools and charity events, promoting the Miss America Organization, and serving as an ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I would visit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center on a monthly basis, and those kinds of days were certainly my favorite ones as Miss CT. Having the chance to spend time with those kids, and hopefully make them smile for just a few minutes, was the most significant part of my year. Their strength and courage never ceased to amaze me. I also promoted my own personal platform of the Monday Campaigns, focusing in on Meatless Monday and Move It Monday, targeting childhood obesity and the way we approach the concept of health. If even just one kid took something away from one of those school assemblies, then that was success in itself.
Sally: Acacia, since May of 2016 you have been working as a an on-air analyst at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino as well as on the Horse Racing Radio Network. You worked before that with America’s Best Racing from January 2015 to March 2016 as a commentator and model for digital video production. When did you first know in your heart that you wanted to be involved in the world of horse racing?
Acacia: I always knew that I loved Thoroughbreds and that I’d want to be involved with them in some capacity. It was in college that I even realized I could make racing my career. I dove in head first and, not knowing much about the actual racing game at the start, I was lucky enough to have some great mentors whom I asked a lot of questions. I also taught myself quite a bit, researching things on my own that I might not understand.
Sally: I’ll bet you’ve met some pretty amazing racehorses over the years. Do you have any favorites? Do you have a favorite racehorse of all time, either living or dead?
Acacia: I always had a soft spot for Seabiscuit when growing up, as he was one of the first racehorses I really became familiar with. But, I never got tired of watching Zenyatta. She was always such a thrill.
Sally: If you had to pick your 3 favorite moments in horse racing, what would they be?
Acacia: 1) Obviously watching American Pharoah win the Triple Crown live is a moment I’ll never forget. It was also the first and only year (so far) that I have attended all three Triple Crown races in a year.
Acacia: 2) The Pegasus World Cup is something I feel so lucky to be a part of. My favorite moment from it was not exactly the race itself, but right before when the horses were in the walking ring. I watched California Chrome and Arrogate right in front of me with the electric crowd while analyzing the race, and I got chills like I’ve never felt before. 3) I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a bit over the past couple years, and watching California Chrome win the Dubai World Cup live was really something amazing to see.
Sally: Was there anyone who especially inspired or helped you along the way in your career?
Acacia: I’ll always be grateful to Mike Penna from the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) for giving me a shot on air in 2015 when I was new to racing. The whole HRRN team has been influential, especially Anthony Stabile, whom I worked closely with on the radio and taught me a lot. Now I’m lucky enough to work alongside Ron Nicoletti and Gabby Gaudet every day, and I think we do a good job of inspiring each other.
Sally: Do you hope to continue your work as an on-air analyst or do you have an idea about some other kind of work that would truly be your dream job?
Acacia: I love working as an on-air analyst and really enjoy being on TV. I’m not sure if it will forever be horse racing or even sports, but I’m loving what I’m doing right now and couldn’t be happier with where I am.
Sally: Acacia, I understand you are living in Florida now. What are you doing there, and how does life in the Sunshine state compare to New York or Connecticut?
Acacia: I moved to Florida when offered the on-air handicapper position at Gulfstream Park. Obviously it’s much different than the Northeast, and while I don’t miss the snow, living down here was certainly an adjustment. I love where I work and it has been tremendous experience. NYC in general is much more of a fast paced city than Hollywood, FL, but we’re definitely fast paced at the racetrack.
Sally: Acacia, you wear so many different hats! If you could have “the perfect day”, what would it look like to you?
Acacia: I’m a workaholic, so I feel weird when I have too much free time on my hands. But, any perfect day is spent with good friends and family, and probably with good food and wine too.
Sally: Acacia, our new hat up on the block for the March auction is the “Zippy Chippy” chapeau which was one of the hats that you modeled at Old Friends. Had you ever been to Old Friends before, either in NY or in KY?
Acacia: Yes I had been to both before.
Sally: Had you ever met Zippy before?
Acacia: I saw Zippy on my first visit to Old Friends in NY. When we found out that he was there, that was one of the main horses we went to see.
Sally: How did the photo shoot go?
Acacia: The shoot was a lot of fun. Zippy loves his mints and was pretty well behaved! I was armed with treats for him, and though he was a little slobbery, we had a lot of fun. It was pretty cool to do a shoot with him, as I remember watching him race at a New England fair when I was a kid.
Sally: Did you get a chance to meet any of the other retirees while you were there at Old Friends Cabin Creek?
Acacia: I did, the volunteers there were nice enough to give a quick tour. It was especially great to see King Congie, who had only recently made it to Old Friends after ending up in an auction house. It was so nice to see that he had found a safe and loving forever home.
Sally: Acacia, I have to tell you that you look GREAT in hats! Have you always been a “hat person”, and where is your favorite place to wear a hat?
Acacia: Thank you! I think the Kentucky Derby and big race events are definitely the best place for a hat. On days when I am running around at the track working, I will usually opt for a fascinator instead.
Sally: I am sure that people are going to be inspired by your support of Old Friends. Why is it important for us to support these retired T’bred athletes, and do you have any suggestions for how people can get involved and participate in helping the retired racehorses?
Acacia: I think we owe a lot to theses horses, who have given so much to us. They have provided entertainment and, for many, a livelihood during their time on the racetrack, and Thoroughbreds always give their all in whatever they do. It’s up to us to make sure that they get what they deserve when their time on the racetrack is over. There are many wonderful organizations that provide retirement or retraining for OTTBs, giving them the chance to even start a new career jumping, working as a lesson horse, as a companion animal, or any other number of options.
Sally: You have done so much for retired racehorses yourself with your nonprofit organization Racing for Home Inc. that you founded in 2011 which is dedicated to retraining OTTBs for new careers after the racetrack. Can you tell us how that all came about?
Acacia: I wanted to be a part of ensuring that OTTBs were cared for once they left the racetrack, and I had always loved and admired Thoroughbreds. As I mentioned, they have so much heart. Since its start, Racing for Home has worked with and found new careers for 20 OTTBs. It’s on a small scale, but I’m sure it has made a difference to those that we have worked with.
Sally: Acacia, thanks again for helping us with our Eighth Annual “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series with the “Zippy Chippy” 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 slideshow of photos from the “Zippy” photo shoot with Acacia at Old Friends of Cabin Creek, a special treat from photographer Connie Bush of Tiger Eye Photography.
And to my readers, thank you all for visiting us today at Hats and Horses!
Welcome to our March “Hats Off to the Horses” auction for 2017 that honors horse racing celebrity and Old Friends Cabin Creek retiree, Zippy Chippy!
As some of you know 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.
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 third auction hat of the season, the “Zippy Chippy” chapeau. Click HERE to bid, and thank you for your support for Old Friends!
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!