Tomorrow at 6:24pm, 20 horses will line up at the track gates of Churchill Downs. Two minutes later, one of those horses will win the Kentucky Derby.
And when it does, there will be a tiny, nameless man in a brightly patterned jersey strapped to its back with a grin from ear to ear.
The ultimate second banana to the animals they ride, jockeys don’t get much of the glory for the big race. But what they’re often most remembered for are the flashy colors on their backs—uniforms known as “silks” that are steeped in sartorial tradition. So in honor of the weekend’s festivities, we’re taking a closer look at the mystery behind the race-day attire of these compact athletes.
The Royal Ascot is the closest Britain gets to a Kentucky Derby, and while it tends to slip by unnoticed for most Americans, for connoisseurs of dandyism it might as well be the Olympics.
Take for example, Mr. Charlie Watts, who in recent years has blossomed into quite the trad. (There were some speed bumps along the way, but nobody’s perfect.) This past Thursday, he broke out a classic morning dress complete with topcoat, top hat and buttonhole carnation. The shades let you know he’s still a rocker, but otherwise he’s dressing the part just about perfectly.
When you’re sharing a stadium with the queen, we’d expect nothing less.
Our favorite pics of the day so far (hat tip) take a look into the sartorial netherworld of horse-racing, where white pants and silk shirts still roam free. We're still not sure why matching helmets haven't caught on.