Brightly dressed jockeys hovered and danced atop this year’s crop of thoroughbreds racing around the turf in a haze of wind and dust.
But Angele Tran focused on the Iroquois Steeplechase fashion contest. She bought one of the event’s exaggerated hats in the first race.
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She found a yellow photo hat with a giant flower painted in yellow silk by New York milliner Christine A. Moore, who was there with Green Hills boutique Gus Mayer.
“My favorite color is yellow and the flower is beautiful,” Tran said. “I like being able to see. It provides just enough shade.”
The 81st annual horse race at Percy Warner Park drew thousands to the sprawling grounds, despite scorching heat on Saturday afternoon. The philanthropic event raised funds for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital in Vanderbilt.
Moore said she cut the $700 hat in a dramatic asymmetrical wave to provide maximum shade without making it difficult to see past the large brim.
“Fashion elevates the day at the races,” Moore said. “It’s a place to gather and socialize. The bolder the better, with elegance.”
Women wore floral sundresses, rompers, and flowing linen maxi dresses topped with fascinators or sun hats. Men wore slacks, fedoras, pork pie hats and tucked buttonholes.
Some of the best-dressed participants spent the race in the new “Royal 615 Lounge” – a large tent lined with a DJ, artificial grass and luxurious furnishings.
Hundreds of groups threw elaborate parties and played cornhole and beer pong. They grilled meats, danced to music and chatted as race highlights were announced over the loudspeaker.
Meanwhile, Anna Witherspoon and her friend Jamie Allen sat in boxes overlooking the race turf, catching up with family and friends.
Witherspoon, wearing a wide-brimmed white sun hat, said she looked forward to the annual event.
“My family has been coming since before my dad was born,” Witherspoon said. “It’s like a meeting.”