Kentucky Derby Day Dawns Wet and Cool

Rain will subside mid-day but resume again before the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby day 135 dawned with a steady, sometimes heavy rain, and a temperature of 53 degrees in Louisville on the morning of May 2.

If the forecast is correct, those are the conditions that fans coming to the track for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) will encounter. According to, rain is expected to continue until late morning, with only a 5% chance of precipitation by 11 a.m. The break will be short-lived, however, with a 60% chance of rain by 1 p.m., when the temperature is expected to be 56 degrees. The rain and cool temperatures are forecast to continue, with lesser chances of rain as the evening wears on.

Derby-goers planning to seek some relief from the wet weather by taking an umbrella to the track should alter those plans. Although coolers are now permitted at the track for the first time since extra security precautions went into effect following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, umbrellas are on the list of prohibited items.

Derby bettors have obviously paid close attention to the forecast, and with the likelihood of a sloppy or muddy track had made Friesan Fire the moderate 9-2 favorite in advance on-track wagering Friday. One of the few Derby starters with proven off-track success, the Larry Jones-trained colt rolled to a 7 ¼-length triumph over Derby starter Papa Clem in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), contested over a sloppy track.

Meanwhile, all was quiet on the backside, as some Derby horses went to the track to stretch the legs.

Rain had also been forecast on May 1, but Rachel Alexandra won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in dazzling fashion over a track rated fast. It had been muddy to start the day but was upgraded to good and finally to fast. She won by 20 1/4 lengths.