Derby Week Weather Review

It's almost time for the most exciting two minutes in sports. Tony has a Derby week weather preview.

Weekend Update

Thunderstorms have drenched Churchill Downs this Saturday morning with an inch of rain turning the track into a sloppy mess. With the first post time on the Downs racing card slated for 10:30 and showers to fall lightly the rest of the morning, the chances of an improvement in conditions is nil thru early afternoon.

However, those showers should move away early this afternoon so there is a chance the track can be salvaged by the 6:15 Derby post time. Given the superior subterranean drying system under the Churchill Downs track, and the gusty winds I expect in the late afternoon, there is a way for track superintendent extradonaire Ray V. Lehr Jr. to work his magic and make the surface run-able.

As for my pick, a mudder to watch is Awesome Act who has a track record of winning on a sloppy surface. Another one to watch is Paddy O' Prado a 12-1 shot. This "Irish" colt had a great run on a fast Downs track in workouts this week according to renown jockey Jerry Bailey. At 12-1, if the surface turns out better than expected, let's see if Paddy does indeed have the Luck of the Irish to wear the garland of roses.

The only weather-named horse in the field is Ice Box coming out of the #2 hole. So I will go with a 16-10-2 trifecta with Awesome Act and Paddy O'Prado going to the wire in the 136th run for the roses.

If you are into history, Exterminator won the wettest Derby in 1918 as he sloshed his way to victory after a day long downpour drenched the Downs with more than 2 inches of rain!

By the way, philosophically, weather forecasting is a lot like horse race predicting. You inspect closely your pressure and temperature charts (scratch sheets), look for patterns that have recurred (how has a horse done in similiar races) and make an educated prognosis of what the final outcome will be.

Too often my words are mistaken as foolproof. My favorite saying around the weather office is 'if I knew for sure, I would be making millions on Wall Street". So If you wager on my 3 horses, do so whimsically.

Derby Week Weather

They are planning a horse race on Saturday, the Kentucky Derby to be exact. That’s when the best 3 year old colts run for the roses at Churchill Downs for the 136th time.

While the early call for the first Saturday in May in Louisville is for thunderstorms and a possible sloppy track, I will hold off on my actual Derby W & W (weather and winner) forecast until I get more concrete data.

Still long before the trumpeter calls the 20 thoroughbreds to the post on Saturday to run for the garland of roses, there are important events for Derby fans to attend.

Let’s start off with the 54th annual Pegasus Parade on Broadway in Louisville. A quarter of a million people will jam downtown Louisville for the 17 block jaunt. Co-Grand Marshalls actress Diane Lane (her latest role is in the movie Secretariat) and Penny Chenery (owner of Secretariat) will make the 1.7 mile convertible trip on a sunny and warm day.

If you are lining Broadway with the kids, the sunburn index in late afternoon will be high enough for a sun block as late as 5 PM. Highs in Louisville will hit 75 degrees, but add on 5 to that for an even 80 when you factor in all those horse fans along the parade route.

Then on Friday it’s ladies day as the action shifts to the race track where 3 year old fillies will take to the Downs for the Kentucky Oaks. While not quite as well known as its bigger sister, The Oaks is a popular cap to a Friday card at Churchill. The air will feel kind of hot and humid by the 5:30 post time for the Oaks with temperatures in the low 80s and rising humidity levels. Right now I expect a fast track as any showers hold off until nightfall.

A quick peak ahead to Derby Day and the most exciting 2 minutes in sports is for morning showers and thunderstorms to muddy up the track. Let’s wait and see how that high technology Churchill Downs subterranean drying system handles the morning rains.

I will update my forecast for both the weather and track conditions and toss in a winner for good measure on Friday. Might I dub "Ice Box" as the winner?
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