Derby Week with Horsey Gals! On The Farm with Kim Weir; Cathy Shircliff at Churchill Downs


Kim Weir and a friend at Chestnut Hall

There’s no place like home during Derby Week. We all have cherished Derby memories – especially if you’ve been to the Infield, and now with the first post-COVID race we’re ready to make some more. This week I found two women who are absolutely passionate about the horse business.

First, my trip to Prospect’s Chestnut Hall farm could have been ordered up by the local tourism board, some of whom were there touring the place with me. Kim Weir is the New York-based Director of Major Gifts & Planned Giving for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, brings an unbridled enthusiasm to her work. Chestnut Hall was recently purchased by Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjens and designated as a sanctuary for 11 retired racers. The organization has some 500 horses placed at farms around the U.S., including some at prisons, where inmates take care of them.

At Chestnut Hall, which is just now opening for visitors, you can walk right up to the horses. Event possibilities are endless in the ancient house that Carstanjens has fixed up for guests.

Cathy Shircliff at Churchill Downs

Cathy Shircliff, in her work at Churchill Downs’ Director of Community Relations, was instrumental in working with the TRF and Carstanjens to establish Chestnut Hall as a horse sanctuary. She’s spent most of her life involved in horses, in one way or another, including publishing the definite Kentucky Derby book a few years back. Today she coordinates activities involving non-profits at Churchill Downs Inc. facilities throughout Kentucky.

And then there’s the race. The experts can’t find any flaws in Essential Quality, who is trained by Brad Cox, like me an Iroquois High Raider. So that’s enough for me. Rock You World, Known Agenda and Hot Rod Charlie are the early betting favorites, but Cathy’s dark horse is Midnight Bourbon. And even it you can’t get into the track on Derby Day, it’s easy to place your bets online.

The show is sponsored by Home Cuisine and eXp Realty. Make it a great Derby!