Derby: She makes the hats …

Elizabeth Cruse and Christine A. Moore show off two of Moore's designs in the Paddock. Herald-Leader staff photo by Rich Copley.

Elizabeth Cruse and Christine A. Moore looked like a typical pair of Derby goers, snapping photos in front of the Paddock late Saturday morning.

But Moore comes to the Derby each year with her professional eye peeled to the Derby’s signature hats.

“I’ve been designing Derby hats for eight years,” says the New York-based milliner.

Derby obviously is prime time for Moore, who designed several prominent hats for this year’s Derby you probably have seen or will see, particularly if you’re watching at home. Her clients this year include the anchors for WLEX’s Derby Day coverage — Cruse is LEX personality Lee Cruse’s wife — and Mary J. Blige, who is singing the national anthem this afternoon.

“My publicist told me where to go to get a hat,” Blige said, on the

red carpet. “There are so many big hats out here, and I just couldn’t

do the big one, because my head is so small.”

“I made her a smaller rose hat to make sure you could see her face on TV,” Moore said of Blige’s design.

Overall the Triple Crown is good for Moore’s business, though in some unsuspected ways. The Preakness, she says, has generated a lot of business for her because Pimlico Race Course has been trying to pump up the social/fashion aspect of their race. And she gets better Belmont business when there is not a Triple Crown candidate.

“If there’s a Triple Crown horse, people have been planning as they go, but if not, they’re just having fun and are more willing to try something different,” says Moore, who also sells her hats at Keeneland.

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