Weather conditions at the Kentucky Derby fluctuate wildly from one year to the next, but they don't figure to be a concern during the 140th Run for the Roses Saturday evening from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
According to Weather.com, a high of 74 degrees Fahrenheit is expected with just a 10 percent chance of rain. Post time for the big race is set for 6:24 p.m. ET at which point there is no rain in the forecast and a temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit is anticipated, per the hourly forecast.
If the weather cooperates as expected, then Derby-goers will get to use their extravagant hats as protection against the sun rather than raindrops. Also, mint juleps promise to be the drink of choice instead of hot cocoa.
Although forecasts can change at the drop of a dime, Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel is confident that the rain will largely stay away:
If that is indeed the case, then it will make for an extremely interesting race. Orb came through last year in dominant fashion on a sloppy track, and it can be argued that the lack of consistency on the surface hurt the chances of other contenders.
According to Alex Sosnowski of AccuWeather.com, the lack of precipitation should allow the horses to run at a breakneck pace.
"Since a long-lasting downpour is not expected on the day of the race, the track should be fairly fast for the 2014 Kentucky Derby," Sosnowski wrote.
One might assume that a fast track would benefit overwhelming favorite California Chrome, but it will also be beneficial to horses that like to jump out in front early such as Uncle Sigh, Chitu, Ride On Curlin and Harry's Holiday, as seen in this projection courtesy of Timeform:
There shouldn't be much resistance for those horses in terms of taking the lead from the onset, and a clean track should certainly aid them when it comes to staying there for the duration of the race.
An overlooked aspect of the weather on Kentucky Derby day is the manner in which it reflects upon the state of Kentucky. There is no question that state officials would prefer perfect weather so that those in attendance and watching on television can truly appreciate the Bluegrass State.
Kentucky lieutenant governor Jerry Abramson is among those who are excited about what clear weather means for the Kentucky Derby:
Constant rain can really put a damper on things, and that has been somewhat of an issue quite often in recent years. Few settings are more beautiful than the early evening at Churchill Downs at the conclusion of the Kentucky Derby.
That background will simply be exacerbated by ideal conditions on Saturday. It will also make the experience much more enjoyable for everyone involved, which is always the goal.
It is difficult to say for sure what role the weather will play as far as determining a winner goes, but it doesn't figure to impact the betting lines. Every horse is on a level playing field, so it comes down to the best horse and jockey combination reigning supreme.
With such a competitive field in place and few horses standing out above the rest, this should be a Kentucky Derby for the ages, and the weather will help significantly in that regard as well.
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