The Winner Wore Roses: Johnny and I Take On The Derby

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It was back to the races this past weekend and I think I’ll be catching up on sleep for a few more days. The Derby itself may just be 1.25 miles but this weekend always feels like a marathon! Thankfully, I spent it with my best sidekick and a whole lot of friends, old and new. Here’s a look back at some of my favorite moments from this past weekend.

Johnny and I started our Derby looks off with true equestrian flair. I have a lot of love for these Dolce & Gabbana riding boots and this big hunky horse, Harley. It was so nice to be able to spend the first day around the stables and respect the beauty and power of these animals. We met Dortmund and the future victor, American Pharaoh. I tried to get them to whisper me some advice for my bets but no dice. More on that shortly…




Of course the Derby brings out a lot of amazing people to see and meet, too. It’s always great to hang out with my NBC family and to be able to shoot the Today Show and Access Hollywood. Bob Costas and his wife Jill are so much fun – Jill and I gal pal a lot over text when we have downtime. Also got a lot of laughs in with Carolyn Manno and Josh Elliot. These people make it feel like it’s not work!

Now for the fashion, I really think Johnny and I knocked it out of the track this year. I’ve shared most of the looks on Instagram but have to call out again this gorgeous Jay Godfrey number and Christine Moore hat I wore during my appearances on Friday. Johnny was such a good date and indulged all of my twirls. At night I transitioned into this sun yellow number by Kate Pankoke. I love the Mad Men, 60’s feel of this. And then for the main event on Saturday, Kate made me this beautiful floral number with just the right amount of fit and flare. Another Project Runway alum, Gunnar Deatherage, topped it off with the hair. We called it a Marie Antoinette meets Effie from the Hunger Games kind of moment. I wanted something different than a traditional Derby hat because, well, you saw Johnny’s hat with the roses and julep.








Here are some fun celeb snaps from the weekend. I fangirled over some of my old boyband heartthrobs – Nick Lachey (with his beautiful wife Vanessa) and Joey Fatone. Sarah Hyland made my dream to befriend the entire Modern Family cast that much more attainable. Johnny and I also had some good times with Josh Groban and Ne-yo, both so talented we were excited we got to spend time with them.





It may have been a lot of live TV and a little nonstop, but I had an amazing producer, sidekick and team by my side. No matter how much pressure I felt I was under, I can’t imagine how those horses felt! And while I lost my bets, I’m still glad I picked Carpe Diem.

When experiences like this come along, you’ve got to seize the day!


Xo, Tara

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