02/17/2003 12:00AM

Farms hit by icy blast


LEXINGTON, Ky. - An ice storm that crusted much of Kentucky with up to an inch of ice caused power losses and other damage to area breeding farms Saturday and Sunday.

The storm downed power and phone lines, forcing managers at Thoroughbred farms from south central Kentucky to Ohio to use generators. But the worst damage came from trees that snapped under the ice, blocking roads and taking pasture fencing down with them.

Flooding also plagued numerous counties, especially to the south and east of Lexington, after an estimated four to five inches of rain fell there over the weekend.

An estimated 50,000 residents in Lexington were without power Monday morning as crews attempted to repair lines. Falling tree limbs continued to hamper repair efforts even after freezing rain moved on.

Among farms reported as closed because of power losses, blocked entrances, or other storm-related damage were Walmac International and Spendthrift in Lexington and Three Chimneys in Midway.

Other farms were luckier. Lexington's Overbrook Farm, which stands Storm Cat, lost power in its stallion barn and sustained some fence damage from falling trees but was able to continue breeding mares who could ship in for their appointments.

Denali Stud in Paris had power and electricity and was shipping mares when possible to breeding sheds that were open and safely accessible, according to representative Anthony Kennon.

Another site that was open with power Monday was the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. Staff said the facility was operating as usual and so far had not had seen a rise in cases because of the weather.