HILLSDALE - The Kentucky Derby may not have run as usual this year, but for some local working "jockeys," it was still a go.
Transtewart Trucking employees held their own Derby of sorts while coping with COVID-19 challenges and having some fun in the process.
As a way to motivate and encourage her employees, Company President Sarah Stewart organized the company's Derby Day on Tuesday.
"This event is normally to celebrate the Kentucky Derby," Stewart said. "We pick our horse from the entries, make Derby hats, and eat lots of food. As a plot twist, we made our own stick horses, named them, and raced them ourselves on May 5. The names were really funny and some COVID-19 driven."
Along with the festivities, a potluck was planned with finger sandwiches and mint juleps served.
"It’s been a few years since we’ve done Derby Day," Stewart said. "The past couple of years, everyone wants Mexican food, so we’ve celebrated Cinco de Mayo. This year, we combined them to include all events for Derby Day and included some Mexican dishes in the Potluck."
This year, less competed due to working outside the office or sleep issues from working the third shift.
"The party is hosted on first shift and it’s difficult to participate after eight hours of working," Stewart said.
Even so, the tension mounted and by the end of April, nine entries had signed up with one or two more expected by the first Monday of May.
Hats are a part of the festivities as well.
"The hats can be quite fancy," Stewart said. "Some people sew on flowers, feathers, ribbons and birds - anything goes! Prizes change with every event and we keep it a surprise right up until the award."
Stewart said Stable Reports are emailed starting the week prior to the race to all personnel. It states who’s stick horse has arrived at the office, jockey reports of trash talk, how the potluck signup sheet is looking and more.
The Derby Days Stable Report for April 30 said the competition was starting to shape up for May 5, with several of the horses registered having arrived for inspection.
"Running out of Toilet Paper, jockeyed by Sarah; and Corona Virus Cartel, jockeyed by Megan; trotted in this morning fresh and rearing to go," the report said. "They will spend the weekend resting and preparing for the big day."
The report called for a contribution to "the grazing for the day" and "word on the wind" was that "hats won’t be the only thing spicy on Tuesday!"
The day before, the Derby Day report announced "one day away from the most talked about race of the year! More pre-registered horses have filed in today, and WOW, are they fancy!"
It was also reported that "these new arrivals have shaken things up with their colorful presentation. Will the others feel the pressure of the swag and buckle? We will see tomorrow how the chips fall!"
On race day, the report announced "the much-anticipated Derby Days Race Day had arrived.
"Hay Fever, jockeyed by Jojo, came bounding in early this morning for inspection," the report read. "Talk Derby to Me, jockeyed by Elizabeth, will be pulling in just in time to warm up for competition this afternoon.
"The grazing spread in the feed room has been shaping up to be a grand feast," the report continued. "Both horses and jockeys will need the fuel for their fires as the temps outside started out quite frigid, and the forecast calls for a chill to hang in the air today. Rumor has it, Greasy Sea Dolphin has been seen skulking about eyeing up the competition. His jockey, A-Town, has also been heard uttering boastful phrases in and around the jockey’s locker room."
Recruiter Megan VonDeylen said the updates were done as a fun way to get the info to the employees, and to start some friendly competition and excitement about the race. She noted they were akin to the news releases for the Kentucky Derby, and helped to round out the full Derby feel.
Race day results announced that Greasy Sea Dolphin, jockeyed by A-Town, pulled out of the gates for an early lead.
"He seemed to think he was a sure thing even though Vanilla Kisses, jockeyed by Stacie, pulled ahead of him at the half. Sir Covid 19, jockeyed by Sharon; Hay Fever, jockeyed by Jojo; and Corona Virus Cartel were all lined up hot on Greasy Sea Dolphin’s heels trailing one right after each other.
Coming around the final turn, Greasy Sea Dolphin clipped his own heels and took a nasty spill, dumping A-Town unceremoniously in the dirt! After a quick examination, A-Town’s pride was the only real injury to be found.
This turn of events led to Vanilla Kisses, jockeyed by Stacie, pulling ahead of the pack by at least a (stick) horse length and clinching the victory!"
Ultimately, congratulations were given to the Triple Crown Winner Stacie Boswell. She won the contest for “Best Dressed,” “Best Derby Hat,” and the race. Both horse and rider received the accolades and the wreath in the Winner’s Circle.
Participants reported the day was fun-filled.
Mercede Speith said the events of the day provided some "rona relief." Sharon Wyant added, "In trying times we are doing what we can to keep morale up."