Kentucky Derby 2012: What Time Does the Action Start?

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04:   Dullahan trains on the track in preparation for the 138th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby officially kicks off at 6:24 p.m. EST with coverage on NBC, but there are hours worth of events that you need to be paying attention to beforehand so that you know what to expect from the big race. 

While the Derby is going to get all the attention, and deservedly so, the pomp and circumstance, as well as the races that take place beforehand, make sure to follow what is going on with all the pre-Derby races. 

NBC's pre-race show starts at 4:00 p.m. EST. You will have news, analysis and information on all the horses and the field conditions expected when the horses arrive at their post positions. 

It is important to know just how the track is going to run because each horse has his own strengths and weaknesses, and the condition of the dirt is going to play a role in who wins, who surprises and who disappoints. 

Speaking of which, the weather forecast for Lexington, Kentucky today has a 40 percent chance of rain during the day and 30 percent at night. Given the time of the race, it is more likely that the Derby will fall into the 40 percent area than the 30. 

If the weather doesn't cooperate with the horses, everything is going to be turned on its head. Instead of just listing the favorites to win—Union Rags, Bodemeister—you are going to have to know which horses are able to adapt to their surroundings. 

When the track gets wet, hooves sink into the dirt and it becomes difficult for the horses to maintain sufficient stamina as they come down the stretch. 

In order to properly determine who has a chance to win if the track is in less than ideal condition would be to figure out who is carrying the least amount of weight and how strong the horses legs are. 

There is a lot more strategy that goes into winning the Derby than you might think, which is why track condition is so important. 

Regardless of how the track looks, we know that at 6:24 p.m. EST the most exciting two minutes in sports will take place with 20 horses vying for the 138th Kentucky Derby.