About 15 years ago, I attended my first “Old Bags” luncheon to benefit the Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation. To this day I carry that sweet little vintage Ferragamo, which I bid on ‘til the bitter end of the luncheon, clearly seeing this classic being part of my wardrobe for decades to come. What I couldn’t have envisioned was that 15 years and four little boys later, I would once again be attending the “Old Bags Luncheon, 2.0”, or what has evolved into the “Fashionable Fillies Luncheon”. What has not changed is the generosity of the attendees, and the Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation’s dedication to supporting the critical workers who make the horse racing industry possible.
In 1943, the Foundation was founded to assist needy individuals in the thoroughbred industry and their families. Since 1985, the Foundation has helped individuals and their families with more than $16 million in assistance. The Foundation reviews every case confidentially, and prides themselves on remaining flexible in the support it provides those facing adversity. The support may come in the form of financial aid, medication or hospital costs, voice recognition computers, among many other things.
Recipients represent every part of the thoroughbred industry, including jockeys, trainers, exercise riders, grooms, office personnel and other employees of racetracks, racing organizations and breeding farms. In other words, The Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation is dedicated to being there for the individuals and families that make horse racing possible. And when they need it most.
The event has been a summer favorite in Saratoga for over two decades, and is always a great mix of locals looking to socialize and support a great cause, and horse racing lovers and owners, who bring great energy to our town each summer. Last year, the Fashionable Fillies went West, with The Jockey Club hosting their first Fashionable Fillies at San Anita Park in California. The success resulted in them continuing the tradition this fall. In addition to raising much needed money at events like the Fashionable Fillies, it gives the Foundation a great opportunity to educate the community on the needs of the workers essential to the industry.
This year, a variety of vendors provided a shopping and an informal fashion show at the event, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Foundation. They included a few local favorites like Violet’s of Saratoga, Spoken, and Complexions Spa, among others.
Handbag designer Kent Stetson showcased his collection, which included several “works of art.” Kent explained that when he realized how well his paintings sold when he transformed them into whimsical statement handbags, the rest was history.
Executive Director of the Jockey Club Safety Net Foundation, Shannon Kelly, took the podium with a warm welcome to the guests, sharing a bit about the mission of the organization. Horse owners Donna Adam & Jo Ann Oreffice were recognized for their long term support of the organization and were both presented with custom bags designed by Kent Stetson. The bags, in addition to the logo for this year’s event, were designed to incorporate elements of Courtlandt Farms and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ silks in honor of the two women.
A highlight of the event was meeting Kurt Rossner, one of the founders of the super cool Old Smoke Clothing Co., a line of clothing (and products) “rooted in the iconic symbols of racing and the racetrack experience”. I fell in love with the whimsical designs and the “JK Collection”, a collaboration with racing analyst and handicapper, Jonothan Kinchen. Jonothan was seated next to me, proudly wearing a piece from the collection (as he always does on air), alongside fiancée Giovannina Solevo (featured here in March), family and friends.
It was so great to take a break from my busy day (and the heat!) and catch up with many faces who I hadn’t seen in years. And it’s ALWAYS great to learn more about the amazing organizations that are doing so much for those in need within our community. Especially when it is those very individuals who work tirelessly to make Saratoga the August (now summer) place to be.