No, no, no! The wealthy women are supposed to be wearing the silly hats, not the horses of the wealthy people…

The Kentucky Derby is nothing to sneeze at, unless you’re a horse and you can’t help yourself.

This is no ordinary horse race; it’s a big deal. Why? Because:

  1. It’s the first race in the Triple Crown (three hoity-toity races, which hardly any one horse ever wins because they made Thoroughbreds better back when I was young just like they made almost everything better back when I was young, including me).
  2. It provides a welcome break from your typical sports broadcasts of golf, basketball, baseball, golf, NASCAR, tennis, and golf.
  3. There is a party atmosphere surrounding the Kentucky Derby. To top off that festive ambiance, women regale themselves with all manner of kerfloofle…elaborate hats.

I’ve watched the Kentucky Derby (and The Preakness and Belmont Stakes) for as long as I can remember. It’s a tradition with me.  Since I don’t like heat and humidity, I’ve always watched these races from the comfort of my home in the north. Last year, most of my family convened for a party for some other reason, but it happened to be on Derby Day and I said I wanted to watch it. So did my mom. We turned the party into a Derby Party. After watching 11 hours of pre-race programming and seeing all the goofy…dazzling hats women were wearing, I got the bright idea that all the women in our family should wear hats at post-time. My sister rustled up enough hats (some were baseball caps) and we watched Animal Kingdom thunder across the finish line. Someone suggested we make Derby Day an annual party event and I suggested we wear proper hats next time.

I know it wasn’t befitting the cherished tradition, but we were desperate to feel like we were part of it. Give us some points for trying.

The 2012 race was on. The women in my family have been scheming in secret because the 138th Kentucky Derby isn’t just about the Thoroughbreds this year: it’s about who is going to come up with the best, most creative, most outlandish hat.

I have my money on me. I’ve been working on this darned hat for two weeks; but I’ve been thinking about it for months. Creative genius takes time…time away from other creative endeavors like one’s memoir. I hope my efforts were worth it. What do you think?

I can’t take credit for making the hat or the feathers, but the “roses” are mine. They are fabric roses for my “Run for the Roses” hat. Clever, huh?

This is the front of the hat. In case you’re wondering, I’m resting it on top of a lamp shade for these pictures. I know, usually people wear lamp shades after a crazy party, but, remember, this is me we’re dealing with.

Back of the “Run for the Roses” hat. The yellow ribbon dangles down to the middle of my back. Too much?

Close-up of the “rose” in the center of the ribbon.

Close-up of the cluster of “roses” on the side of the hat.

I’ll be taking pictures at the Derby party, so you’ll see my competition (and see me wearing the hat). No matter how it turns out, I won’t be going to this party topless and everyone is sure to have a splendid time. Stay tuned for the results and photo finish…

I can’t stand the suspense. Who will win the contest? Oh, yes, and which horse will win the race? Will we have a Triple Crown winner this year? The last time was Affirmed in 1978.