LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Track conditions could play a big factor in the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, where a field of 19 horses will break from the starting gates at 6:24 p.m. ET on Saturday.
David Lehr, the Churchill Downs track superintendent, has downgraded the main track to "sloppy" due to consistent rain falling Saturday morning and early afternoon. The track is now "sealed," or packed down so that excess water rolls off rather being absorbed in the surface.
Track conditions could continue to change before the Kentucky Derby, the day's 11th race.
Only eight of the 19 Derby runners have ever run on a dirt track rated worse than "fast."
Normandy Invasion is one of the 11 never to have run on an off track but trainer Chad Brown hoped this morning that his colt would take to the possibility of a sloppy surface.
"I'm told his breeding is good for the mud," Brown said. "I see that go both ways. Sometimes it does prove to be true and sometimes even if they're bred for it, they don't run in it. You really don't know until you try it."
The Kentucky Derby is the first of the year's Triple Crown races. The Preakness follows in two weeks and the Belmont Stakes is June 8. The last horse to sweep all three races was Affirmed in 1978.
Black Onyx was scratched from the race on Friday.