Anne M. Eberhardt

Churchill May Cancel May 1 Workouts

Timing of the expected rain will be critical to plans by track superintendent.

With a forecast of rain overnight and heavy thunderstorms in Louisville, Ky., there is a possibility that training at Churchill Downs will be canceled May 1, according to track superintendent Butch Lehr.

"If the weather is really bad, there is a possibility we will not let them out there," Lehr said April 30 as sunny skies baked the large crowd on hand for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).

Lehr said that last year he considered not allowing the track to be open on Derby Day after overnight rains, but relinquished since some Kentucky Derby contenders had shipped to Louisville late and did not have an opportunity to experience the track.

"All of the horses have been here long enough that they have been able to get to the track," Lehr said.

Lehr said the timing of any April 30-May 1 rain is critical. He said that water would be applied to the track throughout the Oaks card since the wind is blowing at 15-20 miles per hour. Following the April 30 races, the track will be harrowed and sealed, allowing any overnight rain to drain off.

"Depending on how much rain we get Saturday, we should be OK because this track drains fast," Lehr said.

He aknowledged that not allowing any training May 1 would enhance the chances of the track being in good shape by Derby time.