The first Saturday in May can mean one thing only – horses, hats, happy times… The Kentucky Derby of course!
This year I celebrated the occasion at the Menlo Circus Club with the Square Peg Foundation’s Run for the Roses Fundraiser. It felt good to support such a wonderful organization while having such a great time. I especially liked the blend of derby viewing and exhibition polo.
Founded in 2004, Square Peg is the West Coast Flagship Center for HorseBoy Work, a groundbreaking technique for working with autistic children. Changing the world “one child and one rescued horse at a time,” this special place allows special needs kids to learn to ride at their own pace while sheltering animals in need another chance.
Festivities began with a buffet lunch and tented table seating. It was an especially warm day so the shade was very welcome. Tables were cleverly named after past Kentucky Derby winners; we were seated at Table 21, titled “Mine that Bird,” 2009’s winner. A bottle of the wine sponsor’s Derby Wine Estates Bordeaux Blend Implico was featured in the centerpiece along with a bouquet of roses and a copy of Horse & Style.
As we began to nosh, the opening two chukkers of Menlo Polo Club’s 2013 season started. It was thrilling to watch these skilled athletes thunder up and down the field atop their beautiful ponies. After the divot stomp, a traditional and fun half-time break where you are encouraged to wander over the field and stomp down the turn up turf, it was back to polo and chukkurs three and four. The polo players were very gracious to pose with fans.
The break between the polo match and the start of the derby was a perfect opportunity to check out the silent auction. There were a variety of items and a particularly nice collage by Samuel Price.
Next up, the main event… It was so fun to hat-watch as we strolled over to the Kentucky Derby viewing tent. Derby parties are known for festive headwear, and this event did not disappoint.
My own hat was a bit restrained this year, a bolero-style straw with a wide brim and black ribbon. My bracelet stack was quite a hit – a perfect fit for the occasion: two racehorse themed Hermes Tenues et Couvertures enamel bracelets, a faceted Onyx (Saks exclusive) David Yurman Cable Classics and a Judith Ripka Pia Cuff.
Almost that time, Gloria Ferrer sparkling was distributed in the tent as photographers jockeyed for the best photos spots. Electricity filled the air as the countdown began. It was an exciting two minutes of racing and very special to share it with so many passionate horse people.
We cheered again as the results of our own games of chance were announced: the Calcutta (auction pool wagering), silent auction and drawing winners. Although I didn’t win, the event itself was a prize. There just are far too few dress up events involving fancy hats. I’m so very glad to have experienced this one.
It was a wonderful way discover the Square Peg Foundation. I’m touched by the duel mission of the group, assisting special needs children while also rescuing and providing sanctuary to horses, gentile beasts that hold a special place in my heart.