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Sunday, December 28, 2014
Thorofan Awards Breakfast featuring... 2015 ThoroFan Award Recipient Michael Blowen, Founder,...
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We are happy to share that we are to be the recipient of horse racing's highest honor, A special...

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Hats Off To The Horses - The Catlaunch Hat

Special thanks to jockey Julien Leparoux and his wife Shea for joining our “Hats Off” team this year. Shea is modeling the “Catlaunch” hat. Julien's fedora hat is part of the new line of men's hats by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and although not included in the auction, it is available for purchase from MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® . Thank you both for being such wonderful supporters of Old Friends!

Click here to watch the video of this photo shoot!


The Sixth 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 sixth 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 $21,000.00 for the horses.

The fourth hat up for bid in our auction series honors the Ohio-bred stakes-winning gelding and 3-time Ohio Horse of the Year, Catlaunch. Known affectionately by some as Thistledown's “Iron Horse”, Catlaunch retired at the age of 13 to Old Friends as a thoroughbred millionaire with 40 victories and 22 stakes wins to his credit.

The “Catlaunch” chapeau is up for bid from January 1st through the 11th.

photo © Rick Capone

To read more about Catlaunch please click here.

In a blog post by Susan Salk of Off-Track Thoroughbreds that came out just prior to Catlaunch's arrival at Old Friends, Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, described this millionaire war horse as “the greatest Ohio bred in history, a great fan favorite and the pride of Ohio.”

Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends, states, “Catlaunch is the color of an antique mahogany piece of furniture. A lovely, rich brown though not flashy. But there is one thing about his looks that's very flashy - he is a giraffe! Tall, long legged, long necked, holds his head high, slender. A beautiful horse. Long and elegant! He’s all heart and he’s sweet, too. He likes to lick faces and ears.”

According to Michael Blowen, President and founder of Old Friends, "Catlaunch is a prime example of how a sturdy Thoroughbred, given the care and love of his trainer, groom, owner and jockey, can have a successful career for many years. He's very smart and loveable and he eats carrots out of my mouth."

Indeed, an elegant, statuesque chapeau was needed to honor this beloved racing star and celebrate his new life at Old Friends. The resulting design showcases Catlaunch's medium bay coloring, his friendly, affectionate personality and his racing silk colors of turquoise blue, soft pink and a splash of golden yellow.


To capture Catlaunch's statuesque physique, the foundation for the “Catlaunch” hat was fashioned as a top hat design out of a bluish turquoise taffeta.

A large rose curl, created out of alternating layers of blush pink and rose pink organza adorns the front of the hat. A medley of turquoise blue organza leaves were fashioned to frame the rose.

A double bow sash created out of a rich golden mahogany brown crinkled taffeta lined with soft turquoise crinkled taffeta frames the rose; a sash created out of the same fabric encircles the crown of the hat.


The entire hat is delicately covered with soft mocha hat veiling that drapes down over the wearer's face.

For a final touch to the centerpiece, three long, curvaceous “feathers” created out of mocha organza with a golden shimmer were set behind the rose curl.


Three clear, soft blue buttons adorn the back seam.

 The lining was created from a rich chocolate taffeta.

The finished “Catlaunch” design measures approximately 17 inches across and 10 inches in height, inclusive of the “feathers”.

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

The purpose of this amazing millinery delight is to honor Catlaunch 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.


Click here to watch the video of this photo shoot !

As always, many many thanks to Julien and Shea Leparoux for their support!

A very special thanks also goes to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos for their photo shoots and videos. Thank you as well to Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky for furnishing the stunning dresses for the photo shoots.

The “Catlaunch” chapeau is up for bid from January 1st through the 11th. After the auction, the winning bidder's name will be announced (unless they prefer to remain anonymous)..   (Rosie and Horse 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®