Kentucky Derby Day Dawns Wet and Cool

Kentucky Derby day 135 dawned with a steady, sometimes heavy rain, and a temperature of 53 degrees in Louisville on the morning of May 2.

If the forecast is correct, those are the conditions that fans coming to the track for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will encounter. According to, rain is expected to continue until late morning, with only a 5% chance of precipitation by 11 a.m. The break will be short-lived, however, with a 60% chance of rain by 1 p.m., when the temperature is expected to be 56 degrees. The rain and cool temperatures are forecast to continue, with lesser chances of rain as the evening wears on.

Derby-goers planning to seek some relief from the wet weather by taking an umbrella to the track should alter those plans. Although coolers are now permitted at the track for the first time since extra security precautions went into effect following 9/11, umbrellas are on the list of prohibited items.

Derby bettors have obviously paid close attention to the forecast, and with the likelihood of a sloppy or muddy track had made Friesan Fire the moderate 9-2 favorite in advance on-track wagering Friday. One of the few Derby starters with proven off-track success, the Larry Jones-trained colt rolled to a 7 ¼-length triumph over Derby starter Papa Clem in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), contested over a sloppy track.

Meanwhile, all was quiet on the backside, as some Derby horses went to the track to stretch the legs.

Rain had also been forecast on May 1, but Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in dazzling fashion over a track rated fast. It had been muddy to start the day but was upgraded to good and finally to fast. She won by 20 1/4 lengths.

(This article first appeared on

About the Author

Ron Mitchell/The Horse

Ron Mitchell is Online Managing Editor for The Blood-Horse magazine. A Lexington native, Mitchell joined The Blood-Horse after serving in editorial capacities with The Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, specializing in business and auction aspects of the industry, and was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Horsemen’s Journal. As online managing editor, Mitchell works closely with The Blood-Horse news editor and other departments to make sure the website content is the most thorough and accurate source for all Thoroughbred news, results, videos, and data.

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