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HRN Original Blog:
A New York State of Racing

2014 Kentucky Derby: A Sloppy Derby?

When the University of Louisville Marching Band plays “My Old Kentucky Home” before the 11th race on Saturday we all hope that the first line rings true, “The sun shines bright in my old Kentucky home…” However, in the history of the Kentucky Derby, that hasn’t always been true.
After Monday morning’s thunder and lightning storm that accompanied the deluge of rain, people began to worry about the chance of a wet track on Derby Day.
On sixty-five of the 139 Derby days, there has been at least some precipitation. The good news is that there has only been seven “SLOPPY” tracks. The bad news is that four of them have come in the past 10 years: Orb 2013, Super Saver 2010, Mine That Bird 2009, and Smarty Jones (2004). The other three sloppy victories came from Go for Gin 1994, Citation 1948, and Flying Ebony 1925.
The prevailing wisdom about handicapping sloppy tracks is that the advantage goes to the front-runners. However in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs that hasn’t been the case. In the last five there have been: two deep closers (Orb and Mine That Bird), one closer (Super Saver), one stalker (Smarty Jones), and one front-runner (Go for Gin in a field of 14).
If there is any sloppy track advantage in this year’s Derby it may go to Ride On Curlin who will be ridden by three-time winner Calvin Borel. Borel found his way into the Racing Hall of Fame after his two dramatic ground-saving victories on Super Saver and Mine That Bird when the rail was the best part of the very wet Churchill Downs track.
Historically there have also been seven “MUDDY” tracks, but there has not been one of these since Sunday Silence won in 1989 and before that it was all the way back to Tim Tam in 1958. So lately it seems when it has rained that it has poured and the track has been very wet.

The good news is that the extended forecast for Derby weekend has now improved. 



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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: A Sloppy Derby?...

As the band Def Leppard coined "Bringin on the Heartbreak"....TAPITURE ALL THE WAY BABY.
It was a mess... but last year me and my gf had had a blast in the rain. We'll never forget it. Some couples were screaming at each other instead of accepting the things they couldn't change. I'm definitely glad my gf is not a B#@$!
Well last year was dreadful until Orb made everything better. But yeah, more sun and less mud would be glorious
Looks like it may be more like 2011 this year, I hope so. Last year was dreadful.
I am predicting a fast track this year!

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Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.


Matt’s articles and tweets frequently appear in the America’s Best Racing weekly Notebook. In 2012 he became a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.


The best way to get to know Matt is to check out some of his favorite articles from the past couple years.

• Preakness Interview with Trainer Todd Pletcher

• Kentucky Derby 2016 Handicapping Tips from A to Z


• Edison: the Travels of a Million Dollar Colt 

• A Kentucky Derby Field with Just 14 Horses

• What is the Best Kentucky Derby Running Style?



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