“And They‘re Off”

Hats. Hats. Hats. Hats. Hats. Hats. RACE!!!!!  Hats. Hats. Hats. Hats. Hats. 

Like most things “spring” – turning of the season, start of baseball, basketball and hockey play-off games galore, spring flower bed clean-up and a trip or two or three to the garden center, cleaning out the garage, and more, one of my favorite traditions is the running of the Kentucky Derby. Often referred to as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” due to the race’s approximate duration, the Derby is packed with anticipation and excitement as the horses run 1 1/4 miles, and typically finishes in under two minutes. Like most I love the pageantry, the crazy money invested in horses and of course all of those crazy amazing women’s hats.  I did a bit of digging, and found out May 17th, 1875 was the date of the inaugural race. This year marks the 150th anniversary! Here’s some fun info you can share at your mint julip party.  Thanks to Google, Wikipedia, the chunkychef.com, townandcountrymagazine.com, nbcbayarea.com, and YouTube for the info.  Enjoy!

The Kentucky Derby, known as “The Run for the Roses” or “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” first ran on May 17th, 1875. The inaugural race was won by Aristides, ridden by Oliver Lewis, and trained by Ansel Williamson. The winning horse was owned by H.P. McGrath. At that first race there were approximately ten thousand spectators that came to watch Aristides win that inaugural race. The purse was $3,050, with first place receiving $2,850 and second place receiving $200. That purse is today’s money would equate to $70,483.28. The purse for 2024, which only goes to first five is over $3 million.

The Kentucky Derby is one of the oldest continuously held sporting events in the United States. The first live radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby was in 1925, and the first live television coverage of the race was in 1952.

One of the most iconic symbols of the Kentucky Derby is the twin spires. These spires sit atop the grandstand at Churchill Downs, the venue for the Derby. The Twin Spires were constructed in 1895 and have been an iconic part of the race ever since. Video Here

A starting gate is used to ensure a fair start to the race. It helps in organizing the horses and jockeys before the race begins

The post position from which horses start is crucial. The most successful post position in Kentucky Derby history is post position 5 and 10, with nine wins. Being “on the inside” sometimes forces the horse to hug the rail and get cut off from the front.  Learn More Here

The song “My Old Kentucky Home” has been played at the Kentucky Derby since 1921. It is a tradition for the crowd to sing along as the horses make their way to the starting gate.  Song Here

The mint julep is the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby. This cocktail is made with bourbon, mint, sugar, and water. It has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Recipe Here

The winning horse of the Kentucky Derby is draped with a garland of roses. This tradition began in 1896 when the winning jockey, Ben Brush, was presented with a bouquet of roses. The red rose became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby in 1904, and the garland has been awarded to the winner ever since.

The Kentucky Derby is unique in that it is only open to three-year-old Thoroughbred horses. This adds to the excitement, as it’s a one-time chance for these horses to compete in the prestigious event. The Kentucky Oaks is a race for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies (young female horses) held annually the day before the Kentucky Derby. It’s considered the premier race for fillies in the United States.

In 1973, Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby with a record time of 1:59 2/5, a record that still stands today. Secretariat’s performance in the Derby is considered one of the greatest moments in sports history.

Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack hold the record for the most Kentucky Derby wins by a jockey, each with five wins.  The trainer with the most Kentucky Derby wins is Ben A. Jones, who won six times between 1938 and 1952.

The Kentucky Derby is as much about fashion as it is about horse racing. Attendees often wear extravagant hats and outfits, adding to the pageantry and spectacle of the event. See Hats Here  I trust you all realize that this fashion is truly lost on me!

The highest attendance at the Kentucky Derby was recorded in 2015, with over 170,000 people attending the race.  The Kentucky Derby Festival, which precedes the Kentucky Derby, features more than 70 events and is attended by over 1.5 million people annually. Most never get to see the race live due to limited seating

The trophy awarded to the winner of the Kentucky Derby is made of 56 ounces of 14-karat gold and stands 22 inches tall. It has an estimated value of $200,000.

In 1970, Diane Crump became the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby. She rode a horse named Fathom and finished 15th.  African American jockeys dominated the early years of the Kentucky Derby. Between 1875 and 1902, 15 of the 28 derbies were won by African American jockeys.

In 1913, Donerail won the Kentucky Derby at odds of 91-1, making it the longest shot to ever win the race. A $2 winning bet paid $184.90.

During World War II, the Derby was not held due to the war effort. From 1942 to 1945, Churchill Downs was used as a military hospital. The Kentucky Derby in 2020 was also postponed from May 2 to September 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2005, Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby at 50-1 odds, resulting in the second-highest payout in Derby history.  On a $2 bet for Win, Place, Show, Giacomo paid $102.60, $45.80, $19.80.

The nickname “The Run for the Roses” originated in 1925 when New York sports columnist Bill Corum first used the term. It refers to the blanket of roses draped over the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

The betting handle for the 2024 Kentucky Derby could exceed previous years. A conservative estimate might put the handle at around $200-250 million. A more optimistic estimate might put the handle closer to $300 million.

The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Only thirteen horses have won the Triple Crown, with the most recent being Justify in 2018.

After the Kentucky Derby The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown, held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. It is hosted at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland, and the horses run 1 3/16 of a mile.

The Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, is held three weeks after the Preakness Stakes. It is hosted at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. If a horse has won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes becomes a highly anticipated event as it is their chance to win the Triple Crown.

The Belmont Stakes is considered the “Test of the Champion” due to its longer distance (1 ½ miles) compared to the Derby and the Preakness.

Only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018).


Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!


Hats Off


Hats. They can help to define who you are, what you do, feed your ego, keep you safe or simply keep your head warm. Hey, don’t forget to click the link in the story below to see how one kind of hat is made. It’s pretty interesting.


I hope everyone had an amazing holiday break – I know I did.  Now that we’re all back on the job (some of us never left…) I wanted to share some interesting facts about a topic I thought I’d never write about … hats.  You see, for the past few weeks I’ve been torn as to what to wear, if anything at all, while running.  The temperature here in Cleveland has been WAY above average, with warm, sunny days and low winds, I’ve been a bit challenged as to what to place atop my most precious folic-ly challenged dome. When I go with one of my prized baseball caps, my ears tend to get cold.  When I use a knit cap, it’s often a bit too warn, and when I use one of my headbands … well, not so good on top. Now when I am dressing up, I either don my favorite wool “Ivy” or my KHT baseball hat – all depends on how I am feeling!  So being the curious type, I looked online for some “hat” info, and was blown away – wow! I never knew so many hat types existed. (check out the link at the end of the post).  So, for my trivia buds, test your knowledge of coverings – between the big floppy akubra and the tiny kippah – perhaps see if you can guess the difference between a deerstalker, homburg, patka or saturno.  Enjoy – and thanks Wikipedia, historyofhat.net, the BBC and mentalfloss.com. And thanks Mr. Hetherington for making that public nuisance.


Hats are worn for various reasons, from fashion to protection, for ceremonies and rituals, for women and men. Throughout history hats represented markings of a class to which a wearer belonged and used to differentiate nationalities, branches and ranks in military.

One of the first images that show a hat, is a painting in a Thebes tomb. It depicts a man that wears a conical hat made of straw. Pileus appeared also very early and it was a simple skull cap.

In Ancient Greece and Rome when a slave was freed, he was given a Phrygian cap as a symbol of freedom. That is why Phrygian caps were called Liberty caps while they were worn during French revolution.

The First hat with a brim is an Ancient Greek petasos.

One of the basic materials that hats are made of is felt. Felt was discovered at different times in different parts of the world. Ancient Egyptians found felt when they noticed that camel hair that falls into the sandals becomes compact from pressure and moist. Native Americans found felt in their fur moccasins. It is told that St. Clement found felt when he filled his shoes with flax fibers. That is why he is pronounced patron saint of felt hat makers.

In 16th century, women began to wear structured hats, similar to those that were worn by men. In 18th century milliners started appearing, usually women, that created hats and bonnets but also designing overall styles. Materials of the highest quality and best hats came from Italian city of Milan. That is where term “milliner” comes from.

A famous story out of England goes like this…
The man who gave hats a head start into fame and fashion was haberdasher John Hetherington who, on January 15th, 1797 appeared in court after he had stepped out onto the streets of London wearing the distinctive headgear and caused a sensation.

So much so that a crowd formed, and Hetherington was eventually arrested and given a summons for disturbing the public peace. In court, found guilty of wearing a hat “calculated to frighten timid people”, he was bound over to keep the peace in consideration of a sum of 50 pounds.

The arresting officer told the court that nobody had seen anything like it before: “He had such a tall and shiny construction on his head that it must have terrified nervous people. The sight of this construction was so overstated that various women fainted, children began to cry, and dogs started to bark. One child broke his arm among all the jostling.”

The next day, The Times newspaper reported: “Hetherington’s hat points to a significant advance in the transformation of dress. Sooner or later, everyone will accept this headwear. We believe that both the court and the police made a mistake here.”

The newspaper was right. The top hat, which went by several names including Toppers, Chimney Pots, and Stove Pipes, grew in popularity, finally achieving the ultimate stamp of respectability in 1850 when Prince Albert, no less, began to wear one, giving the headgear the royal seal of approval. There was no going back after that . . .

In the 19th century, brim size of bonnets changed from very large to small (when parasols became fashion). At the same time, hats reentered the scene and were in fashion as much as bonnets. They started as riding woman’s riding hats and were made as highland caps, little circular pork pie hats, doll hats decorated with feathers and tall hats.

The 20th century saw woman’s hat change from smaller to big with large brim to small again. It changed with fashion and hairstyles, economic and social changes, wars, rationing.

Man’s hats also changed through history. Simple skull caps changed into Capotain (tall hat with small brim and a belt with a buckle) and that one into a broad, round-brimmed hat that protected from sun and rain, which transformed into tricorne. Tricorne evolved into bicorn (Napoleon wore a bicorn hat).

Here are some Interesting Facts about Hats You Can Impress Your Friends With:

  • London black taxies are made tall so that a gentleman can ride in them without taking off a top hat.
  • In the middle of 19th century baseball umpires wore top hats during the game.
  • White tall chef hats traditionally have 100 pleats to represent hundreds of ways an egg can be prepared. They were invented by cuisine inventors Marie-Antoine Carème and Auguste Escoffier as a method of establishing hierarchy in the kitchen.
  • Elisabeth I had a law according to which every person older than 7 years had to wear a cap on Sundays and holidays.
  • Trilby, a variant of fedora, was named after heroine Trilby O’Ferral of a George du Maurier novel.
  • Process of making felt involved use of mercury which is toxic and prolonged exposure use can cause damage in nervous system, tremors and dementia. From that originates phrase “Mad as a hatter”.  Watch this great You Tube video from Australia of hat’s being made -WOW – tons of handwork!!
  • Fedora was first a women’s hat than men’s – Now it is both.
  • In 1920s there was an odd custom in America that it was common that if people wore straw hats after the September 15 they were beaten up.
  • First “Dunce” hat was introduced by medieval theologian John Duns Scotus (1265-1308). HIs idea was that a conical hat funneled knowledge from God into a head of the… dunce.
  • Panama hat has never made in Panama. It is made in Equador.
  • Those who supply men’s hats are called hatters while those who supply women’s hats are called milliners.
  • Vikings never whore horned helmets.
  • French Magician Louis Comte was first to pull out a rabbit from a top hat in 1814.
  • First record of a hat is in a painting in a cave at Lussac-les-Chateaux in Central France and it dates some 15.000 BC.
  • There is a law in Wyoming that prohibits wearing of a hat that obstructs a view in a theatre or some other place of amusement.
  • In Fargo, North Dakota, There is a law that forbids dancing while wearing a hat under the penalty of jail.
  • There is still a law in Kentucky that forbids a man to buy a ten-gallon hat if his wife is not present to assist in choosing a model.
  • The smallest hat worn by men was from 18th century and it was a small tricorn hat with dimensions of two inches by four inches and it was worn on the top of the wig.
  • Fedora was named after the Princess Fedora Romanoff from play Fédora by the French author Victorien Sardou.
  • Colors of hard hats can have meaning and are used to distinguish roles on construction sites and for safety. White hard hats are worn by supervisors or engineers, blue hard hats by technical advisers. Safety inspectors wear green hard hats. Yellow hard hats are worn by laborers while orange or pink is reserved for new workers or visitors.

For more history, go HERE.
For great hat trivia, go HERE.
For an amazing recap of hat types, go HERE.
For the top “most famous” hats wearers, go HERE.