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Kentucky Derby Weather: Winter Storm Achilles Will Make for Wet Track

HONG KONG - APRIL 26:  Horses return to stable area on a damp all weather track during an Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II trackwork session at Sha Tin racecourse on April 26, 2013 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.  (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)
Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIMay 3, 2013

Winter storm Achilles has given Kentucky Derby fans more than the horses to think about. Per Weather.com, there is a 50 percent chance of rain at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Per Marc Weinberg, the chief meteorologist at WDRB in Louisville, Ky., the chance for rainfall only increases as the day progresses. 

That will certainly put a damper on things for the thousands of fans who flock to the event every year.

So while spectators and bettors would likely prefer a dry track for the horses to run, it doesn't seem as though that will be the case.

The Weather Channel posted this video to YouTube that breaks down the effect a muddy track can have on the field.

Horses like Verrazano that have traditionally started slowly will be impacted.

Depending on the way the rest of the field handles the muddy track, the playing field could be leveled for a horse like Verrazano, or it could cause a slow-starter to fall too far behind early.

So what type of horse stands to benefit from a wet track? 

It is hard to say for sure, but in some ways, a sloppy track favors less-talented long shots. The unpredictable footing opens the door for upsets as the more talented horses may not run their best.

It is a question of not only how well the horses physically adjust to the track, but how their temperaments will be impacted by the weather. 

This type of racing surface can be dangerous for the horse and jockeys. Because of the potential hazards, both the horse and jockey could allow the elements to affect their aggression.

This is always a difficult event to predict. A favorite hasn’t actually won the Derby in five years. A wet track will only further muddle the picture for race prognosticators. 


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