LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Three races are in the books leading up to the Kentucky Derby, where cold and wet weather has forced spectators to bundle up and use colorful hats for function rather than fashion at Churchill Downs.
A third straight day of rain has dampened fans gathered Saturday under the Twin Spires in 48-degree weather. Track conditions are rated sloppy for horses slogging through the mud in a light but steady drizzle.
The weather is forecast to improve by the time the Derby is run around 6:46 p.m. Eastern time. Some women are covering their elaborate hats in plastic and wearing rubber boots to protect against the soggy weather.
If you've ever had mud splashed on your windshield, you know annoying it can be. Jockeys face the same challenge on a sloppy track. And they don't have the advantage of flicking on the wipers.
Mud is constantly kicked back into the faces of horses and riders when rain turns the dirt surface into a substance similar to pudding.
It's hard enough for a jockey to maintain balance on a 1,000-pound thoroughbred under ideal conditions. Riding while blinded by a coat of slop is nearly impossible.
Jockeys compensate by wearing multiple sets of goggles. When one pair gets dirtied, the rider pulls it down around his neck. The process is repeated throughout the race to keep the mud at bay.
Always Dreaming is the 4-1 favorite in early wagering. The Florida Derby winner is at 4-1 odds.
Classic Empire, the 4-1 morning-line favorite, hasn't generated much support and his odds have drifted up to 7-1.
The late-running Gunnevera is taking action. After opening at 15-1 on the morning line, his price is now 9-1.
The sentimental choice is. His story has captivated many fans and apparently their wallets, too. Listed at 30-1 from the outside post in the 20-horse field, Patch is 15-1.
The odds will fluctuate throughout the day as money pours in from fans at Churchill Downs and those wagering online and at simulcast locations.