A week before the 2012 Kentucky Derby around 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, we ran to get the potted plants inside due to a sudden storm with quarter-sized hail. Just like the local Louisville folk phenology says -- you never put plants outside before the Kentucky Derby because of the chance there could be a cold snap.
My bombarded house is only two miles from Churchill Downs, and last night's hailstorm has my neighbors worried that there may be trouble on Derby Day. Already, the zany weather Louisville over the past months has brought tornadoes and unseasonably warm weather that have interrupted daily life in the area.
Sadly, the Annual Great Balloon Race that is part of the Kentucky Derby Festival has been canceled due to the weather. The hail from April 28 brings back memories of the pre-Derby hailstorm of 1996. This leads to the question of whether or not the Kentucky Derby has been canceled in the past.
Churchill Downs hit by a tornado after Derby
There is often a lot of warning that a tornado might happen during the Kentucky Derby, but one has not happened recently. However, in June 2011, Churchill Downs was hit by a tornado related event just six weeks after the Kentucky Derby. The storm knocked down part of a barn and sent about 200 horses running loose.
According to local news coverage, a tornado touched down in the barnyard. Regardless, within a matter of months, the track was up and running with everything in place. There were no horses or people injured during the storm.
Reasons you should not wear white to the Infield
Two of the muddiest Kentucky Derby events in recent history, the flooded Infield did not stop people from staying in 2009 and 2010. At one point, there was a feeling that the Derby could be cancelled -- but it proceeded. According to CBS, "The wettest Derby day was May 11, 1918, when 2.31 inches of rain fell, according to National Weather Service records."
Will the 2012 Kentucky Derby be canceled?
If you check your sources, you will soon find that the Kentucky Derby has never been canceled in 137 years of running the race. Interesting facts come from AccuWeather.com and their research from the National Weather Service. Their sleuthing says, "Out of 135 years of the event, 61 Derby Days have experienced some form of precipitation (45.2 percent), although not necessarily at the time of the race."
While Derby Fever has adrenaline running the minds of horse racing fans toward paranoia, the odds the 2012 Kentucky Derby will be canceled are practically zero. Instead, they are likely to delay the start of the race until tracks can be irrigated after precipitation.
Morning workout precautions for 2012 Kentucky Derby
Union Rags trainer, Michael Matz, is already at Churchill Downs. Daily Racing Form reports that the storms in Louisville a week before the 2012 Kentucky Derby have Matz worried. Despite this, Matz is ignoring the sour weather and waiting for an opportunity to train without rainy track conditions. This includes doing workouts during the day instead of the typical Kentucky Derby morning workouts.
One 2012 Kentucky Derby cancellation bet you will win
Every once in a while, you will have some wiseguy that wants to tell you that the Kentucky Derby was canceled in 1945. In this case, make sure that they put their money where their mouth is. In fact, the 70th Kentucky Derby was not canceled -- but delayed.
According to the KentuckyDerby.com website, "Government ban of all horse racing in January threatens to break the consecutive string of Derbys at 70, but VE Day is followed by a May 8 announcement lifting the ban and the 71st Derby is run June 9."
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Maryam Louise is a longtime resident of the Bluegrass State and has lived in the shadows of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky over the past two decades. In addition to being a fan of horse racing, she has also had a chance to get to know jockeys, horse groomers, and betting clerks as an ESL instructor. Currently, she writes for KentuckyDerby.org and relies on her friends in the multiple facets of the equine industry for writing inspiration.