How the Kentucky Derby's horses and jockeys can be affected by the weather

Sloppy, muddy tracks can complicate matters for both the horses and the jockeys, but some horses can take advantage of less-than-ideal weather conditions.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For nearly 150 years, the Kentucky Derby has shown how athleticism, luck and the weather can affect the outcome of the iconic race.

Rain, for example, can complicate matters on the track.

"When it rains, obviously, the tracks become sloppier and then the sloppier the tracks tend to be, slower race times," said Jeff Clark, sports betting analyst at Outkick.

Clark noted that the slowest winning time in the last 11 Kentucky Derbys happened in 2018, which saw the most rain.


Rain can also affect the jockeys – even more so than the horses. Clark noted that if it were to rain, the jockeys would have to fight against mud fogging up and kicking up into their goggles. This is why jockeys tend to wear two different goggles if it rains.

While rain can complicate a race, for some horses, the muddy conditions can serve as an advantage.

Horse race trainer Larry Rivelli compared it to running on a sandy beach. The dry, deep part of the beach can be tough for some people to run on, but the wet, packed down part near the water creates a flat, hard surface for running.

"Some people get through it better than others, and it's the same with horses," Rovelli said. "It's a little bit slippery or more slippery, but it takes a special horse to run in the mud."


Horses and jockeys will have nothing but dry, beautiful weather and mild temperatures reaching the mid- to high 70s in this year’s Kentucky Derby.