Kentucky Derby Weather: The 147th Derby Week Forecast Evolves

Derby Week is upon us . . . let the weather watching begin! J.N. Campbell highlights why the weather (seen above in the 2019 Derby) is so important to how this signature American event goes off!
Derby Week is upon us . . . let the weather watching begin! J.N. Campbell highlights why the weather (seen above in the 2019 Derby) is so important to how this signature American event goes off!
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  • THURSDAY: THURBY - April 29
  • FRIDAY: OAKS DAY - April 30


  • HIGH:
  • LOW:


  • 76°F / 24°C
  • 67°F / 19°C
  • 77%
  • Scattered T-Storms


  • 71°F / 22°C
  • 52°F / 12°C
  • 85%
  • Thunderstorms


  • 70°F / 21°C
  • 42°F / 6°C
  • 7%
  • Sunny


  • 73°F / 23°C
  • 52°F / 12°C
  • 2%
  • Sunny

Number 147 has arrived . . . Now, the watching and waiting begins . . . The weather is always a major story that is almost as big as who is in, and who is out. The history of the Kentucky Derby, and the week surrounding it, is storied and woven into the fabric of America, but what is the "X-Factor" is how much rainfall will drop before and possibly during the race on Saturday. When precipitation comes, and at times it can be heavy, it changes the configuration of each and every race. A number of times over the past decade, the Derby has run over a wet track.  The 2013, 2018, and 2019 Derby races all come to mind, and were hugely impacted. When the skies over the Twin Spires open up, it can make the Main Track and the Matt Winn Turf Course a sloppy/sealed mess and a wet bog, respectively. 

In 2013, Joel Rosario ably guided Shug McGaughey and Stuart Janney's mud cruising Orb all the way home from off the pace. In 2018, Bob Baffert's Justify began his Triple Crown-winning season in the slop, as he cruised to victory with HOF jockey Mike Smith in the saddle. The infamous 2019 edition saw a mash of Thoroughbred muscle impede one another as Maximum Security became the 1st Derby winner to be disqualified because of an objection. It would not be the only controversy surrounding his trainer, Jason Servis. Long shot Country House, trained by Bill Mott, benefitted from the "DQ," and then was never seen again.

As workouts continue this week, with conditioners trying to dodge raindrops as the prepare for the races of their lives, the weather is a major factor. When it comes to planning for pace projections, the type of equipment used, and the issuing of jockey instructions, everything becomes infinitely more difficult when moisture is involved.  Churchill Downs Inc. is set to install a new grass surface on the Matt Winn Course at the conclusion of the 2021 Spring Meet. Knowing the condition of surfaces for handicappers is also hugely important. "Give" in the lawn can alter how a certain horse takes to the ground. Soft or yielding conditions does not always suit North American runners because racetracks are quick to take races "off," in order to preserve them for the rest of their meet. Derby Week is different because all bets are "off," or in this instance "on," since this is Churchill's chance to run.

How will this week's weather shape up, and how much rain will emerge on the western portion of the Commonwealth? We can leave that to the professionals. Like Brad Cox, Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Wesley Ward, and all the other connections, we will have to watch and wait. Whatever happens, maybe all that can be said . . . is we hope for fair conditions and a great day of Thoroughbred competition!

Also, be sure to follow all our Kentucky Derby coverage, we are are ready for action! Follow all of our Derby Week previews, handicapping, and features! 

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