GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With the Belmont Stakes this weekend, it’s been a very busy week for a pair of sisters on Long Island who make their living by creating silks for the uniforms that jockeys wear.
Every race track in American knows that for the highest quality, they have to turn to the Betsy Ross of racing, CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reports.
“When I come down here every morning, I don’t feel like I’m going to work. I love what I do and I’m grateful every day,” Antionette Brocklebank, of Thoroughbred Racing Silks, said.
For the past 48 years, sisters Antionette and Anna Marie have become the premiere seamstresses for racing silks worn by jockeys.
“Did you tell him you made the last three Triple Crown winners over the past 38 years?” sister Anna Marie reminded her.
It all started with Seattle Slew.
“Seattle Slew’s what put me on the map,” Antoinette said.
Seattle Slew won the Triple Crown in 1977. Since then, the sisters have hand made nearly every racing silk — all the way back to the last Triple Crown winner, American Pharaoh.
“My eyesight isn’t as great as it used to be. I tie a knot like this so I don’t have to thread the needle,” Antoinette said.
They’re called racing silks, but it’s not really silk anymore. Now, it’s more of a light-weight Lycra. Some take up to three days to create.
“If I’m stressed out, I’ll get behind my sewing machine and I’ll just chill out,” Antoinette said, adding that she sees the designs in her sleep. “There’s a song called ‘It’s Raining Men.’ I told my sister I feel like it’s raining jockey silks.”
The pricing hasn’t changed much since they started in the 1970s — $300 to $400 will still get you a full set. They’re not trying to become millionaires, they’re just making what they love and sharing it.
So the next time you watch a race and see the bright colors flash by, remember they were probably made by two experts just a few furlongs from Belmont Park.