It hasn't been fun living in Central Kentucky these past few days. Rain, mixed with sleet, began falling on Feb. 15, eventually coating everything standing with a heavy layer of solid ice.
Countless trees began sagging, then snapping, hundreds of them taking down utility lines with them. On Sunday, Feb. 16, local officials estimated 30,000 homes in Lexington were without electricity. The number of homes without power nearly doubled over the next 24 hours. Electric company officials said it might take up to a week to restore power and cautioned the situation could worsen when temperatures rise above freezing and trees snap back toward the electrical wires after the ice thaws.
Outlying areas were hit just as badly, if not worse. The adjoining counties of Bourbon and Woodford were mostly left in the dark, too, with fallen, ice-laden trees in every direction.
The most devastating ice storm to hit Central Kentucky in decades couldn't have come at a worse time for Thoroughbred breeding farms. Many breeding sheds had just opened earlier in the week. Foaling season was in full swing. Mares were cycling into heat.
Fallen trees rendered many roads impassable, in both rural and urban areas, making it impossible for some breeders to transport their mares to a stallion station. Other trees broke through fences endangering livestock. On many farms, barns were without lights.
Central Kentucky was declared a disaster area and is eligible for relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The National Guard was called in to clear debris. Emergency shelters were set up in the region to accommodate families frozen out of their homes.
Still, the show must go on. Many farms tried their best to conduct business as usual, using portable generators for emergency lighting in the breeding shed. Employees worked around the clock to cover for those who were not able to traverse the treacherous roads to get to work.
Like many local businesses, Blood-Horse Publications was impacted by the ice storm. Its office building lost power on the morning of Feb. 16, shutting down access to the outside world through the channels we have come to rely upon: the Internet, e-mail, fax, and telephone.
Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of the company's business and information technology departments, temporary power was restored Feb. 18 through the use of a portable generator. This allowed the editorial, research, art, production, and advertising staff of The Blood-Horse, working in a cold, mostly dark building, to produce this week's edition of the magazine. It also gave our online team a chance to update the www.bloodhorse.com Web site that went offline with the power outage.
Just as farm owners are proud of the team that kept their operations going under difficult circumstances, we take great pride in the dedicated staff that was determined to produce this week's issue of The Blood-Horse and not let our readers down. Gulfstream Rising
Gulfstream Park management took some licks in 2002 when the quality of racing hit rock bottom, but things have rebounded at the South Florida track. One reason is the decision by Magna Entertainment chairman Frank Stronach to build the Palm Meadows training center an hour's drive north of Gulfstream.
Horsemen are extremely happy with the quality of the training surface, and horses stabled there are running and winning at Gulfstream. Its mere existence has increased the horse population in South Florida, providing for fuller fields that are proving to be more attractive to horseplayers than the small fields of inferior horses that ran at Gulfstream Park last year.