The Churchill Downs track resembled a river on Derby morning 2010.

The Churchill Downs track resembled a river on Derby morning 2010.

Dave Harmon

Wet Start to Kentucky Derby Day; No Training

With the Churchill Downs track sealed, May 1 began with rainfall and more on the way.

As predicted, there was rain and no training at Churchill Downs on the morning of May 1, hours before the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

There were severe thunderstorm warnings in the Louisville, Ky., area, with gusty winds, hail, and lightning possible. There were, however, no early morning severe warnings for Churchill Downs but that is predicted to change later in the day.

High temperature is forecast to be 76 in Louisville, with 100% chance of thunderstorms until noon, when the chance is lowered to 70%, but the severe thunderstorm warnings are in effect. Those warnings continue until after the Derby is run about 6:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service is predicting several inches of rain in Derby City. Those planning to attend the Derby are reminded that umbrellas are among the items prohibited at Churchill Downs. Ponchos are allowed.

Churchill Downs track superintendent Butch Lehr had said April 30 the track would be harrowed following the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) card, then sealed overnight, to allow better runoff of water, and that morning training would likely be cancelled to keep the track in as good of a condition as possible for the race card. The new lighting system that had illuminated the track all week were dark on Derby Day.

Track officials also said they were prepared to delay the Kentucky Derby and run it later in the day under lights should threatening weather conditions necessitate such action.

As of 9 a.m., there were about two dozen scratches on the card, none involving Derby horses. Churchill spokesman John Asher said scratch time was Friday for the Derby, but that since there is no also-eligible list a horse could be scratched at any time.

Two races – the third, a maiden special weight and the fifth, an allowance, -- are off turf. Two grass races – Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes (gr. IIT) and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) -- are still listed as being run on yielding turf.

Asher said it is unlikely that those two stakes would be taken off the turf.