As 22 horses and jockeys prepared to compete at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, rain dampened the parade. How many times it's rained at the Kentucky Derby in the past proves that it isn't really a big deal. Since the horse race takes place during the rainy season, it's not unusual for the well-dressed crowd to get a little wet, despite paying an arm and a leg to be in attendance.
The 2014 Derby was plagued by torrential downpours the week leading up to the race, even causing some training to be postponed, but the sky remained dry the day of the event. Two years earlier, in 2012, Churchill Downs received 1.46 inches of rain, making it the second wettest Derby day in history. Before that, 2010 saw 1.32 inches — the third wettest "Run for the Roses." Apparently, the rain comes every two years.
Overall, 65 of the total 141 previous Kentucky Derbies have had at least a tiny bit of precipitation. From 2007 to 2013, every race saw a trace of rain, creating a seven-year stretch of wet Kentucky Derby days. Surprisingly though, no Derby has ever been cancelled or even delayed because of rain. Even when 2.31 inches of rain fell on the track in 1918 — the wettest Derby day in history — the competition went on as planned.
The rain on Saturday didn't last all day, letting up before post time at 6:34 p.m. ET., so the crowd, athletes, and horses didn't have to suffer for too long. The worst of it came down while Lady Antebellum sang the national anthem.
Because of the southern locale, Derby-goers usually enjoy a pretty warm day, even if it does rain a little. The average high temperature on May 3 in Louisville is 74 and the average low is 53, which made Saturday's temperature of 71 just before the post time nothing new. The hottest day in the Kentucky Derby's past was May 2, 1959, when the high hit 94 degrees. Attendees weren't so lucky in 1935, as the high didn't pass 47 — definitely not cocktail dress weather.
Even if the track is a bit wet, the rain shouldn't effect the race too much. Trainers and jockeys know that bad weather is always a possibility, and some rain before they kick off isn't detrimental. It's more annoying for people in the crowd who spent hours getting ready only to be drenched before the race actually begins. The show (and bets) must go on.