Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby

And the winner is...Academy Award!

"Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby," an online fashion auction of exclusive Kentucky Derby hats, continues today with the fifth hat on the block to benefit Old Friends.

And this month, the Run for the Roses meets a Walk Down the Red Carpet.

The new chapeau honors recent retiree Academy Award, one of the few remaining sons of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. The sale of the hat and its unique design coincides with the 82ndth Annual Academy Award Ceremonies, which will air on March 7. This hat is the sixth custom-made creation by milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of Maggie Mae Designs® that has been graciously donated to Old Friends. Each of the Steinman pieces has been inspired by one of the pensioned racehorses at the facility's Dream Chase Farm.

Academy Award is a diminutive chestnut son of the legendary Secretariat. In his two seasons on the track he had 19 starts and five wins, including a stakes victory on the turf in the Early Times Manhattan Handicap. His career earnings totaled $226,943.

Golden Globe-winning actress Angie Dickinson, who has long supported Old Friends, along with Secretariat's owner, Penny Chenery, and Boston-based TV producer Barbara Bowen, sponsored the 24-year-old stallion's retirement in January.

The Academy Award chapeau was done in rich chestnut-chocolate dupioni silk with soft organza layers added to form a wavy "galloping" brim. The centerpiece honors Derby Day with its bold, red-silk organza rose nestled in gold shantung leaves, and trim of blue netting and looped French ribbon represent the horse's former racing colors.

And one can hardly create a hat for a horse named Academy Award without a nod to Oscar night, and so a "red-carpet" silk under brim was added for drama while a gold taffeta sash nods to the glimmering statuettes.

Bidding began on "The Academy Award" March. 1; the auction will conclude on March 11. To view the hat and place a bid go to www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link. To read more about Maggie Mae Designs® go to www.maggiemaedesigns.com

The "Hats off to the Horses" auction launched in November of 2009 and will conclude with a last Derby hat for sale on April 1st, just in time for the First Saturday in May. The benefit has so far raised over $2,500 for Old Friends.