Kicking Off the Second Annual "Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby"

Exclusive Couture ‘Derby Hat’ to be Offered in One-of-a-Kind Online Charity Auction beginning Nov 1st

For the second consecutive year, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends are teaming up for an unparalleled online shopping experience: "Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby". This unique Derby hat fundraiser features one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit Old Friends. The inaugural year of the fundraiser, 2009-2010, was a great success.

To view the couture Derby hats from last year's inaugural launching of this exclusive Derby hat auction, please click on the links at the bottom of this page.  

For the first hat auction of this year, milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® has created this stunning one-of-a-kind couture Derby hat in honor of 1988 Breeders' Cup Sprint champion, Gulch.

In late December 2009, arrangements were made to bring Gulch from Lane's End Farm to Old Friends. "Lane’s End has contributed significantly to Old Friends ever since we started,” Blowen has stated, “but Gulch is one of the greatest contributions we’ve ever received.”

This amazing dark bay son of Mr. Prospector deserved a very special hat befitting his stellar career and proud spirit.  Just 25 years young, Gulch has been described to me in a variety of ways by those who know him well. Perhaps one of my favorite descriptions of him is the following: "(He is) Not a flashy guy--understated, calm, very dignified and classy. He isn't much of a ham and I like to think of him as a deep and independent thinker! He knows exactly who he is." (Valerie Mulgrave)

The base of this wide brimmed Derby chapeau was created in a deep, rich cinnamon-tinted espresso brown dupioni silk. An innovative trim design of stunning colors, shapes, and textures honors Gulch's beautiful conformation, his stable's racing colors and his impressive career both as a racehorse and a stallion.

The exceptionally wide brim of this design is an innovative new creation from MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® that measures approximately 26 inches, end to end. The edge of the brim was shaped with an ever-so-gently scalloped curve, and then trimmed with a softly pleated black silk organza "ruffle" to reflect the great stallion's dark mane and tail gently stirred by the breeze.  This ruffled edge was then embellished with an elegant swirling black braiding, top stitched in place, to give it a finished look.

The brim was created in this way to reflect the smooth, fluid action of the Thoroughbred athlete rolling forward at full gallop across the bluegrass of Dream Chase Farm. Stunning from so many different angles!

Gulch's racing colors for the Peter Brant stable were dark green and a lighter shade of green, a theme represented throughout the trim design of this elegant hat. A deep green satin sash lined with a softer shade of green organza, ruffled for added texture and movement, was created to encircle the crown of the hat.

Two large, sumptuous rose curls were fashioned out of slightly different shades of green dupioni silk and organza to honor the two trainers that helped Gulch to achieve his great success on the track, LeRoy Jolley and D. Wayne Lukas. A medley of variegated fabric leaves, created in varying shades of green satin, organza and shantung, softly frames the roses. Slender green organza tendrils, molded into lifelike shapes, and wispy black tulle sprays add the couture details that set this stunning trim design apart as something truly special...

Finally, three delicately etched green buttons adorn the back seam of the hat and give the finishing touch to a Derby hat designed to honor a truly great Thoroughbred athlete.

The purpose of this amazing millinery delight is to honor the life of Gulch 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.

The Gulch chapeau will be up for bid from November 1st through the 11th, 2010. At the end of the month, the winning bidder's name will be announced (unless they prefer to remain anonymous).  Bid as many times and on as many hats as you like during this running auction. For further information about the eBay bidding process, please contact Old Friends at 502-863-1775. Freight charges will be at the expense of the winning bidder. Winning bidders, please allow 2-3 weeks for delivery of your hat in order to ensure proper sizing.

Interested bidders can see the hats for sale and learn more about Steinmann by visiting Maggie Mae Designs®,

Similar custom-crafted hats have sold for well over $1000.  To see the previous hats in last year's auction series check out:  Black Tie AffairCommentator - Bull In the Heather and Little Silver CharmWill's Way - Academy Award - Sunshine Forever

Steinmann, who owns the Massachusetts-based Maggie Mae Designs®, is donating another six magnificent millinery creations to raise funds for Old Friends, the 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that is home to nearly 90 retired racehorses.  Each hat is inspired by one of the retirees at Old Friends and will be auctioned monthly through April 1st, 2011 with 100 percent of the online proceeds going to Old Friends.

Photo:  Gulch photo by Rick Capone