The 2021 Kentucky Derby will be ran with fans in attendance for the first time since 2019, although, attendance will be limited to 50% of reserved seats, and 25% to 30% for the infield. That adds up to around 45,000 fans or so that will get to experience a GREAT Derby day weather wise.
The 147th run for the roses will be one of the best weather Derby days in many years. Temperatures started cold this morning in the upper 30s outside of the city, but by the time we get to mid-afternoon, we'll see highs in the mid 70s with plenty of sunshine. By post time for the Derby race at 6:57pm, temperatures will still be sitting around 72° with clouds making their way in through the rest of the evening. If all Derby days could look like today that would be amazing, but that is not the case. Let's take a look at some of the Derby weather highlights over the past 146 years.
- Coldest Derby Day: The coldest Kentucky Derby was a frigid 36° back in 1940 when Gallahadion was the winner, and in 1957 when Iron Liege crossed the finish line first.
- Warmest Derby Day: The warmest Kentucky Derby was a scorcher back in 1959 when the temperature reached 94°. That was the year Tomy Lee won the Derby.
- Wettest Derby Day: The wettest Kentucky Derby on record was more recent, in fact just 3 years ago back in 2018. 3.15" of rain fell throughout the day, and 2.85" of that occurred between 1pm and 7pm, when the majority of fans were at the track. Even with all the rain and the sloppy track, Justify went on to win the Derby and eventually the Triple Crown. Here's what it looked like at Churchill on this day as Justify crossed the finish line.
- Snow/Sleet: Even though the Kentucky Derby is ran on the first Saturday in May, this hasn't stopped Mother Nature from producing snow and sleet. Back on May 6th, 1989 sleet was observed at Churchill downs and Sunday Silence won the Derby.
- Rain or Shine: Out of the 146 Kentucky Derby races that have been ran, 69 of those experienced rain at some point during the day. In other statistical terms, just over 47% of Kentucky Derby days.
Typically in early May in Louisville we see highs in the low to mid 70s, which is right where we will be at today. Weather has and always will impact the entire aspect of Derby day. Luckily this year, although with limited attendance, the weather is just about perfect.