Rain Could Affect the Running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday

Mother Nature is making her presence felt at Churchill Downs, with Friday’s Kentucky Oaks card hampered by a sloppy track and a yielding turf course, and there could be more of the same on Saturday for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby.

The forecast for Saturday is for cloudy skies and occasional showers with an 80% chance of rain.

So how is the Run for the Roses going to be affected?

First, keep in mind there is a lot of time in between races, a full 80 minutes between the prior race which is on the turf.

There is more than two hours between the 10th race, the $500,000 Churchill Downs at seven furlongs, and the Kentucky Derby, giving the track maintenance crew plenty of time to deal with wet conditions.

The track could be sealed after the 10th race, with any additional rain running off, and then the track would be harrowed and could dry out significantly before the big race.

However, if Mother Nature does not cooperate, which horses could move up over a wet track?

There are six horses in the field that have won over an off track – Thunder Snow, Hence, Battle of Midway, Classic Empire, Tapwrit and Gormley.

Classic Empire is the morning line favorite and currently listed at odds of 17-4 and has the best shot of the six to win the race.

There are others in the field that have not raced over a wet track but are certainly bred to do so.

Among those is McCraken, who has won over the Churchill Downs main track three times. By Ghoztzapper out of a Seeking the Gold mare, he has one of the strongest off track pedigrees in the field. The colt is currently listed at odds of 6-1.

Irish War Cry, 13-2 in early Derby betting, is a son of Curlin and out of a Polish Numbers mare, and he too is bred top and bottom to handle a wet track.

Others in the field with solid off track pedigrees include State of Honor, Irap, and Practical Joke.

On Friday at Churchill Downs the rains came and the track was sloppy. The main track was very kind to speed, with horses getting to the lead staying there.

Conditions may change for Saturday, but if the track stays wet, keep an eye on the early races on the card and see if speed is doing well again.

If speed is holding, that could bode well for Always Dreaming and Irish War Cry and could prove tough to overcome for the likes of deep closers in the race that include Tapwrit, Gunnevera, Hence, Lookin At Lee and Girvin.

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