Kentucky Derby Weather Forecast: Expect Plenty of Rain, Sloppy Track Conditions

Kentucky Derby Weather Forecast: Expect Plenty of Rain, Sloppy Track Conditions article feature image

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports.

  • Rain will fall throughout the day at Churchill Downs for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. The weather forecast looks ominous.
  • Experts are predicting sloppy track conditions, as there could be between a half and three quarters of an inch of rain in the hours leading up to the Derby.
  • By My Standards, Improbable and Maximum Security are a few horses that could benefit from these conditions per Sean Zerillo.

If you’re headed to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby, pack your ponchos. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Churchill Downs charges a pretty penny for what are essentially glorified trash bags.

Don’t forget bread bags, too. You’ll need to put those over your expensive shoes when walking around in the mud. And there will be mud.

While Friday had morning rains followed by a dry afternoon, Saturday will have rain falling throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

Rain could start falling as early as 9 a.m. ET and last until Sunday morning, with the heaviest stuff falling in the hours leading up to the Derby itself, which is set to run shortly before 7 p.m.

The rain could be of the off-and-on variety, with certain pockets bringing heavier downpours than others. There could also be some thunder and lightning, but that shouldn’t be of too much concern.

Though it won’t be nearly as wet as last year, when a record-setting 3.15″ of rain fell in the 24 hours leading up to the derby, there could still be between a half and three quarters of an inch of rain. Seeing as how there shouldn’t be any extended periods of dry weather, it will be difficult for the track to dry out before the Derby.

The high temperature will be in the upper-60s, with cloudy conditions expected if/when there are breaks in the rain. Certainly not evaporation-friendly conditions.

With the track already holding plenty of moisture from the rains this week, sloppy conditions are expected for the Derby. This would mark the fourth time in the past 10 years with sloppy conditions, with a fifth year classified as muddy.

Tomorrow could be quite comparable to what we saw in 2013. Nearly a half of an inch of rain that fell that afternoon along with temperatures in the mid-60s. Orb (5-1) won the race that year on a sloppy track.

So the big question is: Who are the mudders this year?

I’m no equestrian expert myself so Sean Zerillo is here to help out.

Zerillo’s Thoughts on the Weather, Slop

Rain is in the forecast for both the Oaks and Derby this weekend, and the morning-line odds may shift as a result of a sloppy track.

Justify won the 2018 Kentucky Derby over a sloppy (sealed) track at Churchill Downs, but a big story on race day was the odds for My Boy Jack dropping from 20-1 on the morning line to under 7-1 by post time (he finished fifth), due to previous wins in the mud.

Naturally, horses that have a winning racing history in the slop will gain steam on a rainy Derby day, while those with marks against them will fall off of tickets.

Some horses who will likely move up the power rankings in the mud:

  • By My Standards
  • Improbable
  • Maximum Security
  • Plus Que Parfait.

Improbable put up a very honest effort in the slop against Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby, and might have the most overall upside of Baffert’s three entrants.

He also has a win over the track at Churchill Downs, as does his stablemate Game Winner.

One potential live longshot that you might consider crossing off in bad weather is Long Range Toddy, who didn’t appear to like an off-track during his sixth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby.