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What it Takes to Win the Hat Contest

Chris Banner of Valley Center gives us a breakdown of his grand prize-winning topper from last year’s One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest.


“I love Opening Day. You get to dress up and be crazy. I walk around in the courtyard. I’ve never gotten a seat. What’s the point of betting if you always lose? The only thing I win at is winning the hats!”

“It weighs at least 10 pounds. By the end of the day your neck’s pretty jacked up.”

“You gotta hold the hat with one hand and the remote with your other hand.”

“Advice? Go large and creative and,
like I said, DO something that’s different!”

“It takes about a month to make.”

“I do fire prevention. Avocado grove management, weed control. I have three tractors and I’ve been doing it for 17 years.”

“Foam is lightweight. You can heat it up, shrink it, and cut it with a heat knife. I have a foam lady down in San Marcos who cuts my shapes out.”

“You’ve got to mount a biker helmet inside of it. Then you get different fabrics and mount stuff to that. Use a blueprint? Let’s just say I wing it.”

“I love costumes. Every day is Halloween for me.”

“I had an idea to do a remote-control helicopter and have someone in the audience land it on my head. Nobody can use it; that’s my idea.”

“You’ve gotta have a moving part. That’s pretty important. I wanted a racetrack. I went to AmVets and bought a remote-control Barbie car. I cut the car in half and mounted it sideways inside a hole in the foam. The remote goes forward and reverse. When I pushed it, the big block of foam would spin like a racetrack. I’d yell, ‘And away they go…!’”

“I won a couple of plane tickets [two American Airlines travel vouchers good for the continental U.S.]. But I don’t like to fly.”


More: Del Mar, Decoded

Horse Betting 101
What to say at the betting window »

6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Races
A little insider knowledge »

Special Events
The 2014 season runs July 17-September 3 »

Watchful Eyes
Stewards scrutinize the jockeys and horses »

How a Horse Knows to Run
What makes horses “break,” or jump out of the gate »

What's in a Name
How horses get those unique monikers »


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