CRAWFORD | Another rainy Kentucky Derby day: Who likes off track - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Another rainy Kentucky Derby day: Who likes off tracks, and more

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Churchill Downs early in the morning of May 5, 2018 (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Churchill Downs early in the morning of May 5, 2018 (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Another Kentucky Derby day, another radar screen full of green. More rain. WDRB meteorologist Jude Redfield on Saturday morning said it wouldn’t be a driving rain, but “annoying” showers that pop in and out of Churchill Downs.

By now, we should be used to it. This is the 144th Kentucky Derby. There has been rain now on 68 of them. That’s a .472 batting average, in the event your fingers are too soggy to do the math.

We’ve had at least a trace of rain on six of the past 10 Derby days, including the past three. In the early years, this wasn’t a problem. No Kentucky Derby experienced more than a trace of rain for the first 19 runnings of the race.

Kentucky Derby No. 20, however, saw nearly a third of an inch fall on Derby Day.

Maybe the Twin Spires brought some bad weather. In the 21 Kentucky Derby races before the iconic spires were constructed, the race experienced just a little over .35 inches of rain total. In their second year, .85 inches fell on Derby Day, and another .35, during the race itself, the year after that.

In fact, if you subtract the 21 Kentucky Derby days before the Twin Spires were built, it has rained on over half of the first Saturdays in May, 64 out of 123 (52 percent).

But we can’t blame the spires for mother nature.

The wettest Derby Day on record was 1918, when 2.31 inches fell before Exterminator won the race. The wettest Derby since then was 2012 when I’ll Have Another won the race over a fast track, after early rain gave way to cloudy conditions.

Bob Baffert, trainer of Kentucky Derby favorite Justify, said he doesn’t even watch the weather forecasts.

“It’s not a concern,” he said. “The way they have the track set up here, it can rain all day and still be perfect. The only time you really worry about it is if it storms or rains hard right when they’re running. That makes it tough.”

Despite the rain in recent years, the track has only been rated “sloppy” four times since 1995 – in 2004 (Smarty Jones), 2009 (Mine That Bird), 2010 (Super Saver), and 2013 (Orb).

Always Dreaming won last year’s Kentucky Derby over a track rated “Wet Fast.”

If you’re looking for colts who have run over off tracks in this year’s race, you have some options.

Favorite Justify won his second career race over a track rated muddy, splashing home to win by 6 ½ lengths.

Kiaran McLaughlin’s Enticed scored a win over a muddy track in his maiden race. Keith Desormeaux’s My Boy Jack won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park over a muddy track. Lone Sailor, trained by Tom Amoss, won on a sloppy track at Saratoga, and Mark Casse’s Flamaway is 2-for-2 on off tracks, and Jason Servis’ Firenze Fire is 1-for-2, including a victory in the Grade 3 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

More on the Derby and weather from Churchill Downs:

  • 94 was the warmest Kentucky Derby Day high on May 2, 1959 (Tomy Lee)
  • 47 was the coldest Kentucky Derby Day high on May 4, 1935 (Omaha) and May 4, 1957 (Iron Liege)
  • The record cold in 1957 was accompanied by north winds between 20-25 mph
  • 2.31 inches of rain was the wettest Kentucky Derby on May 11, 1918 (Exterminator)
  • Sleet was recorded on Kentucky Derby Day on May 6, 1989 (Sunday Silence) between 1:01 p.m. and 1:05 p.m. (along with rain). Snow flurries fell the following morning
  • At least a trace of precipitation has been experienced at some point during the day on 68 of the 144 Kentucky Derby Days (47.2%)
  • The longest stretch of consecutive wet Kentucky Derby Days is six (1989-94)
  • There had been at least a trace for seven consecutive years (2007-13)
  • The longest stretch of consecutive dry Kentucky Derby Days is 12 (1875-86)

Wettest Kentucky Derbys, 24-Hour Precipitation:
2.31” (1918 – Exterminator)
1.46” (2012 – I’ll Have Another)
1.32” (2010 – Super Saver)
1.19” (1929 – Clyde Van Dusen)
1.04” (1912 – Worth)
0.87” (2013 – Orb)
0.83” (1992 – Lil E. Tee)
0.82” (1897 – Typhoon II)
0.80” (1948 – Citation)
0.78” (1967 – Proud Clarion)
0.72” (1908 – Stone Street)
0.69” (2008 – Big Brown)
0.67” (1907 – Pink Star)
0.65” (2004 – Smarty Jones)
0.63” (1994 – Go for Gin)
0.62” (1928 – Reigh Count)
0.58” (1905 – Agile)
0.55” (1996 – Grindstone)
0.54” (1983 – Sunny’s Halo)
0.50” (1945 – Hoop Jr.)

Wettest Kentucky Derbys, 1-7 p.m. Precipitation:
1.00” (1918 – Exterminator)
0.66” (1929 – Clyde Van Dusen)
0.55” (1996 – Grindstone)
0.45” (1912 – Worth)
0.44” (2013 – Orb)
0.39” (1928 – Reigh Count)
0.35” (1898 – Plaudit)
0.35” (1992 – Lil E. Tee)
0.31” (1967 – Proud Clarion)
0.29” (2004 – Smarty Jones)
0.27” (1994 – Go for Gin) 

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