Old Friends News

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
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Hats Off To The Horses - The Geri Hat


Click here to watch the video of the amazing Geri photo shoot with Rosie Napravnik at Old Friends!

The Fifth Annual "Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby"

 A Unique Online Derby Hat Auction Benefiting Old Friends  
 sponsored by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® -
Custom Derby Millinery by Sally Faith Steinmann

For the fifth consecutive year, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends are teaming up again for an unparalleled online monthly auction November 1st through April 1st with their "Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby"series. This unique Derby hat fundraiser is now an annual event which features one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit the retired racehorses of Old Friends.  These hats have made over $20,000.00 for the horses.

The sixth and final hat that is up for bid in our fundraiser auction series honors Kentucky-bred multiple graded stakes winner and millionaire, Geri. The 22-year-old chestnut stallion was returned from Europe to retire to Old Friends in August, 2013, becoming the sixth North American-bred stallion repatriated from stud duty overseas. Special thanks to Andrea Branchini of Horse America and Peden Bloodstock in Germany who made Geri's trip home possible. 

We are so pleased this year to have Rosie Napravnik modeling our “Hats Off to the Horses” chapeaux for us. Thank you, Rosie! A very special thanks also goes to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos for their photo shoots with Rosie and the horses of Old Friends. Thank you as well to Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky for furnishing Rosie's stunning dresses for the photo shoots. 

photo © Rick Capone

To read more about Geri, please click here.

The description of Geri by volunteer Beth Shannon of Old Friends seems to fit him to a T. Shannon relates, “Geri was a multiple graded stakes winner (the 1996 Oaklawn Handicap, 1997 Woodbine Mile and Citation Handicap) who was lightning fast and one of the best of his time. He is exceptionally beautiful, with a refined head and a bright eye, graceful, always alert, always on the move, like a horse made out of air and fire. And Geri isn't your typical all-American guy. He's a world traveler, having lived in Japan and Italy for several years of his life.”

President and founder of Old Friends, Michael Blowen describes the team it took to bring Geri home to Old Friends. "A few years ago, Sylvia Stiller, our office manager, visited Geri in Italy and adored him," said Blowen. "I also remembered him very fondly as a gorgeous and successful race horse. I contacted Andrea Brancini at Horse America, the international equine shipping service, and he worked on all the arrangements once Geri became available.

A dramatic chapeau was needed to honor this accomplished equine athlete and to celebrate his new life at Old Friends. A stylish Derby hat design was created with a unique blend of colors, tones and textures that showcases Geri's chestnut coloring along with the imagery of his status as a stallion with international connections along with the Paulson racing silk colors of red, white and blue.


The foundation for the “Geri” design was fashioned out of a white dupioni silk. A rich red dupioni silk underbrim creates a vibrant, colorful effect when the wearer's face is upturned. 


A large Marguerite fleur adorns the front of the hat, created out of red silk organza for the petals and navy blue silk organza for the rose curl center. A large brassy button accents the center of the rose curl.

This floral centerpiece is framed by a bed of leaves fashioned out of alternating layers of navy blue organza and deep green shantung.



A layered sash, created out of deep green shantung, navy satin, red taffeta and chocolate taffeta encircles the crown of the hat, meeting in the back with a second Marguerite fleur adorned with a single brassy button.


Swirling layers of alternating chocolate brown and red tulle, encircle the crown to complete the trim.



The “Geri” hat is stunning from every angle with no details left untouched; the lining was created from pure white satin to coordinate with the trims.


The finished “Geri” design measures approximately 19 inches end to end, inclusive of the fabric leaves and tulle layers that spill over the brim edge.



As a physical remembrance of Geri, several strands of the great stallion's tail hairs were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Geri not only in spirit but in substance as well. 


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

"Sally Faith Steinmann's works of millinery art have raised thousands of dollars and a priceless amount of awareness for all these great retired athletes. Their stunning beauty and indescribable originality symbolize what one great artist can do to positively alter the lives of so many deserving athletes." - Michael Blowen, President and founder of Old Friends.

Watch the video of the amazing Geri photo shoot with Rosie Napravnik at Old Friends!


Special thanks to Rosie Napravnik and EquiSport Photos for helping us with this year's “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser that supports the retired racehorses of Old Friends in Kentucky!   Rosie's dress kindly furnished by Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, KY.    

The “Geri” is the sixth and final hat in our “Hats Off to the Horses” Derby hat auction series this season, and is up for bid from April 1st through the 11th, 2014.  At the end of the month, the winning bidder's name will be announced (unless they prefer to remain anonymous)..   (Horse and Rosie not included!) 

Bid as many times and on as many hats as you like during these auctions. 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. Please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery of your hat in order to ensure proper sizing.  To view the couture Derby hats from previous auctions, please click on the following -

View MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® information page about this hat.

Old Friends Hat Auction Portfolio.


All hat designs and hat photos on this page are the sole property of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®. All Images and content may not be reproduced for any commercial purpose without the express, written permission of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® or the photographers noted.  Copyright MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®