With heavy overnight thunderstorms still producing severe lightning on Derby morning, May 5, at Churchill Downs, the Louisville track canceled the limited training that was scheduled to take place between 6-8 a.m. EDT.
Butch Lehr, the track superintendent who is overseeing his final Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) before retirement, was unavailable early to discuss the track condition because he was tied up with track maintenance duties.
Churchill Downs vice president of communications John Asher said the track maintenance crew had sealed the track (packing it down so water runs off) in anticipation of the storms that resulted in about an inch of precipitation overnight. Asher said that with a forecast calling for the storm front to move out in the morning, there is a possibility the track condition will not be a factor by the 6:32 p.m.post time for the $2 million Kentucky Derby.
Later in the morning Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman said track officials believe the track will be rated fast for the races. It was called "sloppy" for the opening heat on the card. The track was changed to "muddy" following the opener.
Asher, who is also well-known for his handicapping skills, said an off track would be favorable for horses such as Gemologist and Union Rags , the Derby favorite. He also said any horse that has In Reality blood in his pedigree should like muddy, sloppy, or good tracks.
According to the National Weather Service, conditions in Louisville will be muggy throughout the day, with temperatures in the mid-80s, high humidity, and a 30%-40% chance of isolated or scattered thunderstorms throughout the day.