|This year’s winner, Orb, enjoys his blanket of roses while jockey Joel Rosario poses for the camera (Associated Press)|
The Kentucky Derby takes place every year on the first Saturday in May. The race for three-year-old geldings and fillies lasts all of two minutes, and the winner is covered in a lush blanket of 564 red roses.
It is the first jewel of the Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
The run up to the Run for the Roses begins weeks ahead of time in one long series of parties and preparation for everyone in or connected to the beau monde of the racing world.
Bartenders prepare their ingredients for the official Kentucky Derby cocktail, the Mint Julep, made with simple sugar, water, muddled mint leaves, Kentucky bourbon, fresh mint leaves for garnish, all served up in the traditional frosted silver goblet.
Ladies put the finishing touches on their hats for the big day.
The tradition of wearing exquisite, dare I say extravagant, hats to the Kentucky Derby began in 1875. It is a tradition that traces its roots to the dress code of the Royal Ascot in Britain.
For some, the thrill of watching the endless parade of fabulous headgear rivals the fleeting thrill of the race itself. I count myself among them.
Rumor has it that the right Derby hat can make or break a Lady’s social standing for the rest of the year.
For those who can’t make it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, there are thousands of private venues across the country where you can place your bets, sip your Mint Juleps and wear your extravagant hats while watching the race on big screen TVs. It’s almost like being there.
For the second year, Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, New Jersey, threw a fabulous Derby Day party, replete with betting stations, Dixieland Band, Mint Juleps (among other yummy cocktails) big screen TVs to watch the race and, of course, lots of lovely ladies in beautiful hats.
|M-T and Linda|
This year, I was determined to go all out and take the title -- “Most Dramatic Hat.”
So, I bought a black organza picture hat at Macy’s and had some fun.
I added some red roses, pink flowers and a tiny sprig of lilac in the front…………….
And a large white flower and peacock feathers to the side.
I named her Olivia. Olivia was now ready for the Derby.
Wasn’t this how Coco Chanel got started – designing hats?
The rest of my outfit was designed around Olivia.
|M-T, Olivia and Dan|
Derby Day in Haddonfield dawned bright and sunny, which is more than could be said for Louisville, and Olivia was champing at the bit to get to the starting gate.
The competition was pretty stiff, particularly from my friend, Patti.
|M-T, Olivia and Patti|
Patti works as a mild-mannered bridal consultant by day, but by night, she designs incredible costumes for local theatrical companies. She created this hat from a piece of yellow crinoline. Frankly, had I been on the Hat Committee, she would have gotten my vote.
|M-T, Olivia and Vicki|
Here’s my lovely goddaughter, Vicki, in a white plumed hat. Doesn’t she look adorable?
She was the official/unofficial photographer of what Olivia and I hoped would be our millinery triumph.
Merci beaucoup, ma chère filleule.
|M-T and Olivia|
It was neck-and-neck there for a while, but at the last moment Olivia pulled out in front and, in a Photo Finish, the title of “Most Dramatic Hat” at the 2013 Tavistock Derby Day Fête went to Olivia. I was so proud of her.
The racetrack dust has already settled, and I will retire the champ to a cozy hatbox at the top of my bedroom closet. Soon, it will be time to get another chapeau into shape for the 140th Run for the Roses; but, for now, Olivia and I are taking a much-deserved victory lap.