Horse racing's Triple Crown starts today Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Horse racing's Triple Crown starts today with the annual running of the Kentucky Derby. The pre-race favorite is undefeated Nyquist, who will face a challenge from 19 other horses. The Doug O'Neill-trained horse will start from the 13th gate with Mario Gutierrez aboard.

PHOTOS: Hats on! The fashion of the Kentucky Derby

Derby day weather is holding out, but it's a long way before the Run for the Roses. The forecast is calling for isolated thunderstorms with a high temperature of 81 degrees. There's a 30 percent chance of rain. Currently, it's partly cloudy with winds from the west up to 17 mph.

Some Derby weather nuggets:

- The average high for May 7 is 75 (record 89 in 1940); the average low is 54 (record 36 in 1989); average rainfall is .18 inches (record 4.6 inches in 1961).

- 94 degrees was the warmest, May 2, 1959 (Tomy Lee)

- 47 degrees was the coldest, May 4, 1935 (Omaha), May 4, 1957 (Iron Liege); the record cold in '57 was accompanied by north winds between 20-25 mph

- 2.31 inches of rain was wettest, May 11, 1918 (Exterminator).
American Pharoah's journey to racing history a year ago spurred Richie Columbus to make his first trip to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.

Until Pharoah, horse racing typically drew his attention just once a year, when Columbus watched the Derby on TV. But when Pharaoh galloped across the finish line at the Belmont Stakes last year to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, Columbus was hooked.

A huge crowd gathered Saturday at the famed track for a full day of racing. Fans basked in breezy temperatures expected to reach the low 80s.

Throughout the track, fans sifted through the field of Derby horses listed on race forms, hoping to land on Pharoah's successor as a Derby winner.

Joe Cicci, of Syracuse, New York, won the trifecta betting on Pharoah last year. It was one of his favorite bets in 25 years of handicapping.
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