Last week, my husband and I attended the Preakness Stakes as guests of the Stronach Group, the owners of the Pimlico race course. I have always enjoyed watching horse races on television (especially in 2015 when American Pharoah won the triple crown at the Belmont Stakes), but have never actually attended one in real life, so this was a big treat. I have to admit that I was just as excited to see the fashion, and of course, the hats that guests would be wearing, as the horses (because let’s be honest, millinery opportunities are few and far between these days unless you’re a member of the Royal Family) .
Choosing my own outfit came down to what was available at Rent the Runway the day before the event (I received an email early that morning informing me that the dress that I had originally ordered would not arrive in time – le disaster). Luckily, I came across this white lace number reminiscent of the dress worn by Eliza Doolittle as portrayed by Audrey Hepburn in one of my favorite musicals, “My Fair Lady.”
I decided to stick to the same black and white color scheme as Cecil Beaton’s costume design for Ms. Hepburn (see image here). I was fortunate to find this adorable fascinator at Proper Topper, and I pulled out these cute white pumps with black bows from Isabel Marants S/S 14 collection that pulled the look together perfectly.(one of the benefits of being a shoes and clothes hoarder is being able to repurpose past trends).
Getting to Pimlico is no small feat given the number (over 140,000!) of attendees, but we made our way and once we arrived, were escorted to The Owner’s Chalet by lovely hostesses clad in black from BrandLink, the owner’s PR agency. Outdoor seating in a lovely park-like setting near the track was an option, but given the chilly temperatures, we stayed in the tented area.
An indoor area was also available, and off to the side, a “VIP Area” off limits to other than the likes of Kevin Spacey (love him), Carson Kressley (always my favorite on the TV show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”) Bill Belichick (wish he had brought Tom), and women wearing giant hats that looked like they cost more than my entire outfit. The rustic-chic decor was the perfect setting.
We arrived at about 3 pm, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the delicious drinks and appetizers that were passed around by an attentive wait staff in madras shirts and colorful bow ties before the final race that was scheduled to take place at 6:45. The scene inside the chalet did not disappoint! I loved seeing the ladies in their colorful, lady-like attire, and I must say that the men were equally dressed to impress.
When it was finally time to go outside to watch the big race, I borrowed one of the throws on the many chaise lounges in the tent (because the one thing that I forgot to bring despite the 60 degree weather was a shawl) and ventured out to watch the horses warming up, and eventually fly by in their sprint to the finish line.
Cloud Computing (number 2 in photo above) surprised everyone by finishing just a nose ahead of Classic Empire, and far ahead of Always Dreaming, the winner of the Kentucky Derby. Watching these horses run from up close is the most amazing thing to witness – they are SO FAST! You can’t really get a sense of that when you are watching them on television. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush, which probably explains the number of people who showed up to the race track that day.
We left soon after the race to try to beat traffic, but from the sounds of it, the party was just getting started behind us. Oh well, maybe next year.
Photos: Julien Garman
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