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Which Kentucky Derby 2022 horses are the best mudders?

·3 min read

After back-to-back dry Kentucky Derby days, rain is in the forecast for this year’s Run for the Roses.

Wet weather has more implications than your wardrobe choices if you are making the trip to Churchill Downs. It could significantly alter your betting choices as well.

After a run of four straight Derby days with at least some rain from 2016 to 2019, the last two Derbys have gone off with no rain. Hopefully the 2018 record for most Derby day precipitation (3.15 inches) is safe, but bettors will want to monitor track conditions throughout the afternoon.

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Front-running horses are generally thought to perform better in wet conditions because they have to deal with less mud being kicked in their faces, but a faster pace in a competition to get to the front early could hurt horses without the endurance to last 1 1/4 miles.

Of the 20 horses currently in the Kentucky Derby field, 12 have never raced on an off track. That could lead to some uncertainty at the betting window if there is rain Saturday, but there is at least some history to draw on.

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If the light track record for Japanese-bred horses in the Derby was not enough to scare you off Crown Pride, a raining Derby Day might do it. His only loss in four career starts was on a muddy track, a sixth-place finish in February. Ethereal Road, who finished seventh on a good track in the Bluegrass Stakes and a distant third on a muddy track at Oaklawn Park in December, is another horse to avoid if rain is a factor.

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Enthusiasm for the points leader should not be dulled by a wet Derby day. Epicenter has already won on a wet track, rated as good, at Churchill Downs in November. His sire, Not This Time, also won on a muddy track at Churchill Downs during his career.

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Despite being considered a closer, the Chad Brown-trained horse won the Bluegrass Stakes on a track rated as good. Zandon rallied from the back of the pack to win that race. He was last of the 11 horses after three-quarters of a mile.

Smile Happy

The Kenny McPeek-trained horse finished second in the Bluegrass Stakes as the favorite. His sire, Runhappy, is a son of Super Saver, who won the Kentucky Derby on a sloppy track in 2010.

Classic Causeway

Classic Causeway finished 11th in his last start on a fast track in the Florida Derby but previously won the Tampa Bay Derby on a track rated as good. He posted his best career speed rating in the Tampa Bay Derby.

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Barber Road

If there is heavy rain before the race Saturday, keep Barber Road in mind. He has the best finish of any horse in the field on a sloppy track with a second-place finish in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park in January.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: These 2022 Kentucky Derby horses are the best in the rain, mudders