“Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to The Derby” Online Auction of Couture Kentucky Derby Hats Returns for Third Year

Proceeds to Benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement

GEORGETOWN, KY – OCTOBER 31, 2011 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY, is happy to announce the launch of the third annual “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby,” an online auction of exclusive Kentucky Derby hats.

The first of six hats exclusive Derby chapeaus will go on the virtual block November 1st and bidding will be open for 10 days. The first hat will commemorate Hall of Fame Champion Noor.

Interested bidders can visit www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link.

In the past two years this the six-month-long charity auction, featuring beautiful hats handcrafted by milliner Sally Faith Steinman, has raised nearly $9,000 for the more than 100 retired racehorses cared for by Old Friends.

Steinmann, who owns the Massachusetts-based Maggie Mae Designs, is donating the magnificent millinery creations and each hat is inspired by one of retirees now pensioned at Old Friends.

A new hat will be offered for bid each month with all of the high-fashion action leading up to the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby, held May 5th at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

“We are so excited to be able to once again offer these beautiful hats at auction,” said Old Friends founder and president Michael Blowen. “Sally’s generosity is unmatched, and we can’t thank her enough for honoring the horses of Old Friends in this unique way. This is a great tribute to Noor.”

About Noor
The son of the superstar stallion Nasrullah, Noor was campaigned by Charles S. Howard, better known as the owner of Seabiscuit, after the colt’s 3-year-old season in 1948.

The stallion was voted 1950 Handicap Champion after winning four out of five head-to-head sprints with Citation and defeating the then 7-year-old Assault. The victories made Noor the first horse in history to beat two Triple Crown winners.

Noor died in Grass Valley, CA in 1974 and was buried in the infield of the old Loma Rica Ranch Racetrack. But the property is now in development for commercial use and so his remains were exhumed and re-interred this past August in a new cemetery for Hall of Fame inductees at Old Friends.

“I chose Noor because he is a sometimes-forgotten champion,” said Steinmann, “He lived in the shadow of the Charles S. Howard’s other great racehorse, Seabiscuit. But the Old Friends Hall of Fame Cemetery will give every visitor the chance to learn his history.”

About the Hat
Noor was coal-black and stood near 17 hands. To represent his size and majesty, Steinmann chose a 25-inch-wide brim design for the foundation of this magnificent hat. A rich black dupioni silk was selected to reflect the stallion’s coat, while a ruffled trim, made of layered taffeta and shimmering black tulle, symbolizes his athletic conformation.

The centerpiece of the hat is a dazzling rose curl created in luscious, swirling layers of red silk organza lined with yellow organza.

“When the light catches it just right, these silk layers give off a luminous glow,” says Steinmann. “It’s almost as if it’s coming from deep within the heart of the rose.” A sparkling coal-black pebble button adds one more bit of twinkle to the luminescence.

The black-and-white diamond racing silks of owner Howard’s stable provided the color palette for the additional trimmings. And in honor of Howard, Steinmann also stitched several sparkling diamond buttons into the hat that only the wearer will be able to discover.

Similar designs by Steinmann have sold for over $1,600.

One doesn’t have to be a racing fan to know that wearing an eye-catching hat to the Kentucky Derby is tradition. From the Hollywood celebs sitting in Churchill Downs’s Millionaire Row, to the eccentric toppers seen in the infield, the “Derby Hat” parade is as fundamental as the post parade on the First Saturday in May.

Even if you were not Derby-bound, this hat would make an elegant addition to any formal ensemble.

The first day of bidding will be November 1st and the auction will be available for 10 days only. Interested bidders can view the hat and learn more about Steinmann by visiting www.maggiemaedesigns.com and following the auction link.

To bid on The Noor hat go to www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link.

For additional information contact Cynthia Grisolia at cagrisolia@yahoo.com (347-423-7322) or Maggie Mae Designs at info@maggiemae.com (508-430-1626).

For additional information about Old Friends or any of its retired champions, see the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org or call (502) 863-1775.

Maggie Mae Designs Custom Millinery offers magnificent hats for all occasions, from glamorous racing events such as the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot to stunning and unique bridal wear and handsome cocktail fashions. Owner Sally Faith Steinmann personally handcrafts every design.  Salons of her fashions can be viewed at www.maggiemaedesigns.com.

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for more than 100 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cagrisolia@yahoo.com, or Maggie Mae Designs (508-430-1626), info@maggiemae.com

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