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

October 29, 2010–Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby,? an online fashion auction of exclusive Kentucky Derby hats, is returning for the second year to raise funds for Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY.

A joint venture between Old Friends and custom milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of Maggie Mae Designs?, the 2010 ?Hats off to the Horses? will launch November 1st with the first of six exclusive Derby chapeaus going on the virtual block.

Steinmann, who owns the Massachusetts-based Maggie Mae Designs?, is donating the magnificent millinery creations to raise funds for Old Friends, the 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that cares for more than 100 retired racehorses. Each hat is an homage to one of the retirees at Old Friends.

?Hats off to the Horses? will offer a new hat 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 next year on May 7th at Churchill Downs.

The inaugural hat, open for bid on November 1st, was inspired by Breeders? Cup and Eclipse-winning champion Gulch, who was pensioned at Old Friends by Lane?s End Farm following his long and prestigious stallion career.

?Hats off to the Horses was such a tremendous success for us last year, raising nearly $5,000,? said Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen. ?We’re sure it will be an even bigger success this year and can’t thank Sally enough for her unprecedented generosity with this ongoing project.?

?Hats are my passion, and so is the cause of Thoroughbred racehorse aftercare,? said Steinmann. ?Together I believe they make a formidable fundraising team. The first year of ?Hats off to the Horses? was a good beginning, but in this economy there are so many horses that really need our help,? she added. ?I was so pleased that Michael agreed to join me once again for the ?Hats off? fundraiser and I am thrilled to create a hat honoring Gulch.?

Gulch was owned and bred by Peter M. Brant and trained by Hall-of-Famers LeRoy Jolley and D. Wayne Lukas. He retired in 1988 with 13 wins from 32 starts and career earnings of over $3 million. His victories include the Hopeful Stakes, the Bay Shore Stakes, the Wood Memorial, and the Metropolitan Handicap.

In 1988 Gulch capped off his 4-year-old year with a victory in the Breeders? Cup Sprint, which helped him earn that year?s Eclipse Award for Champion Sprinter.

?The dark bay son of Mr. Prospector deserved a hat befitting his stellar career and proud spirit,? said Steinmann. And so her custom-crafted chapeau reflects the stallion?s beautiful conformation, his stable?s racing colors, and his impressive accolades.

This exceptional design features an exceptionally brim ? approximately 26 inches across ? which is a new innovative from Maggie Mae Designs?. The base is done in a rich, espresso-colored dupioni silk that has just a hint of cinnamon.

The trim is made up of stunning colors, shapes, and textures, such as the softly pleated black-silk organza ruffle that echoes the stallion?s dark mane and tail. An elegant braid that is top stitched in place for a finished look embellishes this ruffled edge.

Encircling the crown of the Gulch hat are bold sashes done in the horse’s racing colors. A deep green satin sash is lined with a softer green organza and ruffled for added texture and movement.

Two sumptuous rose curls, also made of slightly different shades of green, represent the two trainers that helped Gulch achieve his track success.

Finally, three delicately etched green buttons adorn the back seam for a finishing touch.

Similar designs by Steinmann have sold for over $1,000

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 on the ?Gulch? will be November 1, 2010 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 Gulch? go to www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link. Bidding will be open until the evening of November 11.

For additional information contact Cynthia Grisolia at [email protected] (347-423-7322) or Maggie Mae Designs? at [email protected] (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. Every hat is carefully handcrafted by milliner Sally Faith Steinmann from her home base in South Harwich, MA. Salons of her fashions can been seen on her website at www.maggiemaedesigns.com

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that is home to more than 100 retired racehorses. It’s Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. For more information on tours, reservations at the Old Friends B&B, or to make a donation, contact the farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.