When it comes to weather conditions, you could not ask for anything better than what Mother Nature has bestowed upon Louisville, Ky., the location for one of sport’s biggest days of the year.
Plenty of sun, blue skies and mild temperatures are forecasted to be in store Saturday in the city hosting the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Post time is set for 6:57 p.m. ET, with the race airing on NBC.
According to the latest update from the National Weather Service at 2:30 p.m. ET, it’s sunny and clear right now in Louisville, with a current temperature of 70 degrees. The forecast calls for sun, with a high near 75 degrees. There’s also south wind projected to be around 9 miles per hour.
All of this translates into a perfect day of racing, which is highlighted by the first leg of the Triple Crown taking place on the 14-race card.
If you throw out last year’s Derby, which wasn’t run until Sept. 5 due to the global pandemic, the weather has been pretty much 50/50 in terms of conditions.
Prior to 2020, five of the previous 10 races were run on either sloppy or wet-fast surfaces. Country House, the 2019 champion via a disqualification of Maximum Security, and 2018 champion Justify — who went on to win the Triple Crown — triumphed on a sloppy, dirt track. The 2018 event was run on the wettest day in the race’s history, with Louisville picking up 3.15 inches of rain on race day.
From a temperature perspective, the warmest day for the race was back in 1959 when it hit a sizzling 94 degrees. In contrast, the coldest temperature was 36 degrees in both the 1940 and 1957 races. Making matters worse in 1957 was the fact there were 20 to 25 mph north winds, according to the NWS records.
Undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Blue Grass Stakes champion No. 14 Essential Quality is the current favorite at 2-1 odds, followed by Santa Anita Derby winner No. 15 Rock Your World (5-1), No. 6 Known Agenda (6-1), No. 9 Hot Rod Charlie (8-1) and No. 17 Highly Motivated (10-1) to round out the top-five betting choices.