As Kentucky Derby faces changes, so do local horse farms

Posted at 9:37 PM, May 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-02 22:46:47-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The first Saturday of May should be cause for wearing eccentric hats and drinking mint juleps while watching the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports, the Kentucky Derby.

“My favorite part is the home stretch. The excitement in the owners faces, the horses crossing the finish line," Bridlewood Farm owner Anita Anderson said. "I think that’s the ultimate part of the Kentucky Derby.”

“You just can’t miss it," Pam Herman, owner of Pam Herman Farms, said. "The Super Bowl of horses.”

On Saturday, Churchill Downs remained empty, while Derby Day is rescheduled for September 5th because of COVID-19.

For Anderson, the occasion is not just a big sporting event, but also an important part of her roots as a Kentucky native.

“Even here when there’s derby parties we put the hats on, we make mint juleps, you just try to represent Kentucky as much as you can," Anderson said. "When they play My Old Kentucky Home, I cry every time I hear My Old Kentucky Home.”

This marks the first time since World War II that the event has been interrupted.

Like the derby, local horse farms have had to make adjustments due to the coronavirus pandemic, facing changes in day-to-day operations and unable to participate in horse shows.

“Financially we’re not making the money we’d usually make in the Spring time," Anderson said. "We have to limit how many people are here, what time they’re here. We have a cleaning schedule set in place just to disinfect everything after people have been here.”

“We’ve had a lot of social distancing here," Herman said. "We try not to have more than two people in a lesson and my rings are big, and we keep everybody six to eight feet apart from each other in the barn.”