Yes, I do many ladies hats for the Belmont.  More and more, ladies are wearing hats to the Belmont.  The fact that there is the chance of American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown ratchets up the stakes even more!

In the past, ladies have sent me a photo of their dress and then I have designed the hat around that.  It’s always fun to see them in their hats on t.v. 

I don’t know why, but I have tended to Belmont hats in blue.  Having been a former New York, it’s odd that Belmont is the one track that I have not been to.  I’ve attended the Derby and Preakness. 

This year, I am working on a fascinator and saucer hat for the Belmont.  It will prove to be an exciting race to watch, to say the least.


Christina Olivares at the Belmont
Christina Olivares at the Belmont

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The Belmont Stakes is traditionally called “The Test of the Champion” or “The Run for the Carnations” because the winning horse is draped with a blanket of white carnations after the race, in similar fashion to the blanket of roses and black-eyed susans for the Derby and Preakness, respectively. The winning owner is ceremonially presented with the silver winner’s trophy, designed by Paulding Farnham for Tiffany and Co. It was first presented to August Belmont, Jr. in 1896 and donated by the Belmont family for annual presentation in 1926.

Despite the fact that the Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, its traditions have been more subject to change. Until 1996, the post parade song was “The Sidewalks of New York“. From 1997 to 2009, the song was changed to broadcast a recording by Frank Sinatra of the “Theme from New York, New York” in an attempt to appeal to younger fans.[5] In 2010, the song was changed to Jay-Z‘s “Empire State of Mind[6] before reverting to “Theme from New York, New York” from 2011[7] through the present. This tradition is similar to the singing of the state song at the post parades of the first two Triple Crown races: “My Old Kentucky Home” at the Kentucky Derby and “Maryland, My Maryland” at the Preakness Stakes.[2] The change of song gave rise to “the myth of Mamie O’Rourke,” a reference to a character in the lyrics of “The Sidewalks of New York.” Some claim that changing the official Belmont song “cursed” the Triple Crown and was why no horse had won since Affirmed in 1978. Others note that there was no Triple Crown winner between 1979 and 1996, even though “Sidewalks” was still played.[8]

Along with the change of song in 1997, the official drink was also changed, from the “White Carnation” to the “Belmont Breeze.”[9] The New York Times reviewed both cocktails unfavorably, calling the Belmont Breeze “a significant improvement over the nigh undrinkable White Carnation” despite the fact that it “tastes like a refined trashcan punch.”[10]

While the origin of the white carnation as the official flower of the Belmont Stakes is unknown, traditionally, pure white carnations stand for love and luck. It takes approximately 700 “select” carnations imported from Colombia to create the 40-pound blanket draped over the winner of the Belmont Stakes. The NYRA has long used The Pennock Company, a wholesale florist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to import the carnations used for the mantle.[11]