By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer
May 6,2017, 1:12:58PM,EDT
Spectators headed to Churchill Downs on Saturday for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby will want to bring jackets to go along with their extravagant hats.
Cloudy and unseasonably cool weather is forecast in Louisville, Kentucky. The steady rain has since exited the region, with mainly dry weather in store for the remainder of the afternoon.
“By post time for the Derby at 6:34 p.m. [EDT], the sun may even break through,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Thompson said.
As a result, Thompson expects track conditions for the “Run for the Roses” to be listed as "good" or "muddy."
Dry weather has won out the past three years for the Derby, allowing the horses to run on a fast track. The longest stretch of dry Derby Days is 12 from 1875-1886.
Temperatures will only be in the 50s most of the day, so patrons will want to bring jackets, Thompson added.
A normal high for Louisville on May 6 is 75 F.
“Winds will be out of the northwest at 7-14 mph,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. “Given the orientation of the track, the horses will have a bit of a head wind along the front stretch and a tail wind along the back stretch.”
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When heavy rain is forecast, the Churchill Downs maintenance crew will pack down and compact the track’s surface, which is called “sealing” the track, Thompson explained. This allows water to run off and drain more easily, rather than sinking into the track. It also provides safer conditions for the horses.
The track was still sealed from earlier rain on Saturday morning.
The Kentucky Derby is the longest continually held sporting event in America, with the first race taking place in 1875. Over the previous 142 races, rain has fallen on race day 66 times.