Jewelry! Accessories! It’s the last bastion of individual expression. One of the finest traditions of horse racing is dressing up. It’s a way of adding special touches to your outfit. Rings, cuff links, necklaces, earrings, bracelets. The combinations are endless. Whether vintage or brand new, it’s all part of the tradition.
It’s easy to acquire horse racing jewelry. Websites such as eBay, Etsy and Ruby Lane offer thousands of options. One can shop on a minimum budget or be as extravagant as you want. I would suggest reaching out to your relatives. You might be surprised when you find a beautiful vintage horse-and-jockey brooch in your grandmother’s jewelry box! Wear it with pride!
I wandered around Santa Anita this week admiring people’s choices in accessories. There was the young man who had a purple and gold cast on his arm. The woman with the extremely fashionable Breeders’ Cup purple pumps. Sometimes you have to be extremely observant to catch the details. Sometimes the choices are bold and beautiful. Sometimes they are a simple, modest touch.
I was delighted to meet Maggie Alvarez at the gate near the paddock. She was wearing the most beautiful sunglasses. Very striking, with a magnificent large horse head on the side of the frames — extremely chic for the Breeders’ Cup. Then I must have walked miles looking for a man wearing a gold horse shoe ring with diamonds. The image in my mind must have come from movies. I was positive that one had to be found at the track. I am sure that men must have wondered what I was up to as I scoped out their hands and rings. Suddenly there it was! I wanted to sing out loud! Angel Rangel is a Santa Anita parking lot attendant and has worked here for 25 years ago. He bought his ring in 1992 after winning an extremely large bet. He went straight to the local pawn shop and bought his one-of-a-kind gold horse shoe ring. It is a treasure indeed!
Jesse found his Richard Wallick silk tie online. It sure looks like California Chrome and he bought a second Wallick tie in Chromes colors to wear on Saturday. Everywhere I went, I found the most beautiful stories when I asked people about their jewelry. Carol Barger met Johnathan Hallgrey on the streets of New York. A dapper man, he had a table of his art on the sidewalk. Carol immediately noticed his equine items which reflect “the influences of the New York Jazz age, the luster of great Broadway shows and Hollywood film magic.” She kept in touch with him and recommended that he enter the Hampton Classic Poster Contest. Hallgrey won the 2015 poster contest and now his equestrian art is celebrated worldwide. I certainly stopped in my tracks when I saw his handbag sitting next to her. I have to admit that it was a lustful moment that sent me running to the internet to see if I could purchase one. It might be a Christmas present to myself!
Upstairs, I was dazzled by a beautiful woman wearing a striking set of a horse shoe necklace with a large diamond set inside the show and matching earrings. She was very modest and gave all the credit to the man who designed the jewelry. I should be horse whipped for not recognizing the designer. It was Mr. Charles Fipke who has been active as a Thoroughbred owner, including Tale of Ekati and Golden Soul among other elite Thoroughbreds. Mr. Fipke certainly knows his diamonds! He discovered the existence of diamonds in Canada and has been extremely successful in the mining business. I would say he also excels in designing of jewelry.
Don’t forget historical jewelry. It is amazing what one can find at estate sales and auctions! One of Chris Aplin’s most cherished possessions is a solid, heavy gold bracelet that was given to Hall of Fame jockey Willie Shoemaker from Hawthorne Race Course. On the back it is engraved “Farewell from Hawthorne RC 11-26-89. The front has “The SHOE” set in sparkling diamonds. You can sense the history when you hold it in your hand.
I have a collection of horse racing jewelry. They include vintage jockey and horse brooches, a snaffle bit necklace, horse earrings and a lovely gold mare and foal ring that Mine That Bird bought me at my first Derby when I placed a large bet on him at 50-1. Of course, I headed straight to the gift store to commemorate my Derby “win.”
I wear a Jane Heart sterling silver Secretariat around my neck. I never take it off. It’s hard to explain, but I think most horse racing fans will understand. When I am exhausted, sometimes I look at my necklace and tell myself to think about a Thoroughbred training day after day for a race. It takes time and heart. From my necklace, I draw inspiration to keep going in life. You never know when you will be a champion.
Whether it’s vintage or brand new, jewelry allows oneself to be self-expressive. There are several sayings about jewelry that are definitely applicable to horse racing. “Life is too short to wear boring jewelry!” Indeed! I have seen several women who wear multiple necklaces and bracelets. Pile it on! Make an impact. “Jewelry has the power to be this one little thing that can make you feel unique.” (Jennie Kwan)
So when race day comes, I happily look into my jewelry collection and choose what to wear. It’s a great conversation starter when you meet other people wearing jewelry at the track. The fastest way to become friends at the track is to start talking horses. From jewelry to races, there is much to be inspired about. From glitz to glamour, it’s always great to accessorize!