Rick Samuels

Derby Day: Calm Before the Storm

May 4 backstretch buzz was about the weather and previous day's Kentucky Oaks.

The backstretch at Churchill Downs was quiet the morning of May 4 as most of the talk centered on the previous day's Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and whether the weather would have an impact on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

The contingent at the barn of Todd Pletcher included Ed Stanco, majority owner of King of Prussia Stable, which owns longshot Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar.

"It has just been a great thing," Stanco said of a Pennsylvania-bred winning the 1 1/8-mile race that is the fillies' equivalent of the Kentucky Derby. "This is quite a storybook that we ended up where we are today. It's pretty unbelievable."

Stanco said he and other partners were savoring the Oaks win and will make a decision later about the next start for Princess of Sylmar.

Also making the rounds in the barn area Saturday morning was Kevin Flanery, the president of Churchill Downs who was casually dressed in jeans and a dress shirt.

"Yesterday was great," Flanery said of Oaks day and the sunny weather that brought out a crowd of 113,820, second-largest in Oaks history.

Pointing to the cloudy skies and a forecast for rain by Derby time, Flanery said: "I wish we had yesterday's weather today."

According to Weather.com, there is a chance of some showers by noon and an increased probability of more precipitation late; light rain was falling by 9 a.m. EDT at Churchill. There is a 40% chance of rain by the Derby post time of 6:24 p.m.

In addition to a greater chance of rain, temperatures will be considerably cooler on Derby day than they were Friday. The forecast calls for a temperature in the 50s by Derby post.

The last rainy Derby Day was in 2010, when 1.32 inches of rain fell in Louisville and Super Saver  won the classic on a sloppy, sealed track.