Johnny Weir is resplendent at Churchill Downs, and he’s far from the only athlete enjoying the Derby
A woman wears a hat before the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Here’s all the news you need for what’s happening online, on television and on the ground at Churchill Downs. This post will be updated through the afternoon.
Look who’s here?
The Kentucky Derby always draws a whole bunch of celebrities and A-list athletes. This year is no different. Check out this shot of some Boston sports legends: David Ortiz, Tom Brady and Jason Varitek.
Here are some more athletes who made the trip to Churchill Downs.
Vincent Viola, one of the co-owners of the Florida Panthers is also a co-owner of Derby horse Vino Rosso. A bunch of Panthers players came up to Louisville to root him on.
Aaron Rodgers takes some of his offensive linemen and old friends on an annual pilgrimage to the Derby. This is his 10th year in a row making the trip, he told NBC, enough years that he’s started paying attention to horse racing outside of the Triple Crown. He doesn’t know a whole lot about this year’s field, though.
“I like the No. 5 horse based on name only, which is Audible,” Rodgers said. “That’s something I like to do.”
The hats have arrived
Is it a runway or racetrack? It depends where you are at Churchill Downs. NBC’s Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski are always dressed to the nines and offered a take on what is “in” for the run for the roses, and a preview of what’s fashionable for the summer.
Floral patterns are a favorite, especially busy ones. The print that used to be on your grandmother’s couch, Weir offered: If you can brighten it up, it makes for a dress or tie.
Yellow is also apparently in style, thanks to Beyonce’s Coachella performance in a bright yellow hoodie. Look closely, and you’ll see it everywhere at the Derby: ladies’ hats, men’s suits and even more hats.
And about those hats: You’re going to see a lot of them this summer between the three jewels of the Triple Crown and the royal wedding. You’re looking for tall hats (like sometimes several feet in height) and sparkly hats.
And if you’re in need of inspiration, glance through the the head-wear in this photo gallery.
It’s a very wet day at the track
The rain is the main story early in the day at Churchill Downs in Louisville It is currently raining heavily and 67 degrees, according the National Weather Service, which forecasts rain on and off through the rest of the afternoon and evening.
The track is considered “muddy” — a deeper and slower surface — and could be trending toward “sloppy” as more precipitation comes down.
Meanwhile in the grandstand, patrons are scrambling for shelter beneath some covering or trying to acquire a poncho. In the infield, NBC cameras have caught fans to covering themselves with tarps or trying to sidle up beneath an unsuspecting friends’ hat.
It is the 15th time the Derby has been run on Cinco de Mayo. Decked out sombreros are a popular choice among fans both in person and online.
On the track, the rain is starting to have an impact on the races. In the fifth race of the day, McCraken, a 4 year-old colt, came all the way from the back of the pack to win in light rain. But the precipitation hasn’t stopped, and the track has gone from fast to good to sloppy in quite a hurry.
Races Nos. 6 and 8, both on the dirt, were well behind Churchill Down’s typical pace. Horses’ hooves sink deeper into wet surfaces and don’t allow for sturdy stepping.
Horses and jockeys also get chunked with the dirt flying off the track. Jockeys are known to wear up to nine pairs of goggles, pulling them down as the top pair mucks up, to see through the grime.
Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. stands trackside after riding Whitmore during the 84th running of The Churchill Downs race. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
This post will be updated throughout the afternoon in the lead up to the run for the roses. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about what’s going on in the box office and on the track.
When: Post time is scheduled for 6:46 p.m. Eastern.
How to watch: Race coverage begins at noon on NBC Sports Network, and at 2:30 on NBC. Bob Costas and Mike Tirico will host NBC’s coverage. The coverage will also be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Length: The race is 1 1/4 miles long.
Horses to watch:
How do thoroughbreds get their names? The rules are surprisingly complex, and the results surprisingly amusing: Justify? Solomini? How the Kentucky Derby horses get their names.
How to make the best mint julep for the Kentucky Derby? We’ve got the recipe, plus four variations: The Kentucky Derby means mint juleps. Here are four variations.
Read more Kentucky Derby coverage: