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What happens if the weather gets rowdy at Churchill Downs

Louisville is expecting plenty of rain and maybe even some strong storms during Oaks on Friday.
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 10:24 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Louisville is expecting plenty of rain and maybe even some strong storms during Oaks on Friday. That’s nothing unusual for Churchill Downs.

Darren Rogers with the Kentucky Derby said about half the time it’s wet. Like in 2018 when Justify won the Run for the Roses.

There are only two things that will stop these horses from racing. One is an absolute torrential downpour. The other is a lightning strike within eight miles.

That’s when you need to check out the jumbotron and see where to find cover.

“With every new investment that we’ve made in terms of facility upgrades, there is a lot of place to seek shelter,” Rogers said.

There have already been delays this week. One took about half an hour.

Rogers said the longest he can remember is closer to an entire hour.

“Say a storm blows through and you have the lightning strikes in the area, you seek shelter,” Rogers said. “Then the all-clear is given, but you still may need to groom and maintain the track to ensure a safe racing surface. Sometimes that’ll take a little extra time.”

A lot of work goes into making sure the track can handle rain ahead of the races.

“[Crews] will take the tractors and put heavy weights on the back to float the track. It packs the dirt down, so that way any precipitation just sits on the top, as opposed to going deep down into the soil itself,” Rogers said.

WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram...
WAVE — Louisville and Southern Indiana's NBC affiliate. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram @wave3news.(WAVE)

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