Three women in hats bought especially for the day were laughing over a photo of a man in bright pink suit.

It was just what they hoped to see at the Charleston Cup at Stono Ferry.

I took a photo of him, Carolina Bryan of Isle of Palms said. I think its funny.

Joe Walker, also of the Isle of Palms, was pouring champagne for Bryan and two friends out of the back of a black Mercedes SUV parked near the racetrack. The first horses hadnt run yet, but the party was in full swing.

Its a social event, Walker said. Its being seen and seeing people. Its more than the horses. Its an event. Its about hats. Its about tailgating. Its about food, meeting people.

We planned months ago for this day, Elizabeth Sher of James Island said.

Organizers expected 15,000 people for the event held at the Plantation at Stono Ferry, and a man handling parking said it looked like that goal was met.

Those who came out were rewarded with perfect weather temperatures in the mid-70s, blue skies, white clouds, a gentle breeze.

Children ran in the grass, young people tossed footballs, corn hole games popped up around the track, people posed and snapped photos.

There was the smell of good food, the intermittent sound of thundering hooves around the track, the announcer with the British accent.

Dollar bills changed hands in bets, usually about on the scale of the typical office pool on a football game. One group displayed a big board with all the horses in each race at $2, $5 or $10 each.

The Hat Ladies sponsored a hat contest, with local restaurants providing gift certificates for prizes.

It brings people together, Archie Burkel of James Island said of the hats. It makes people want to talk to you.

Besides the guy in the pink suit, men were spotted wearing:

Bow ties and seersucker pants;

A full black tuxedo with top hat;

Shiny black leather pants, white embroidered shirt and black cowboy hat;

Black blazer, green-and-black plaid pants and matching tartan cap;

Black blazer, red-and-cream kilt and cream knee socks;

A tiny, child-sized cowboy hat; and

One man in casual dress carried around a jockey mannequin.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or