Steady rain pelts Churchill Downs before Derby

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Steady rain pelted Churchill Downs on Saturday leading to the Kentucky Derby, with the bugler wearing a red poncho as he blew the call to the post for early races.

The condition of the track was steadily downgraded to sloppy. Heavy rollers went over the dirt surface to pack the top layer and prevent water from seeping into the base, but it still resembled creamy peanut butter.

A track spokesman said a quarter of inch had fallen by mid-afternoon, with lighter amounts expected before post time at 6:24 p.m. EDT.

Fans huddled under covered sections of the grandstand and donned plastic ponchos over suits and dresses. Umbrellas were banned because of safety concerns. Some folks covered their elaborate hats with clear plastic to protect feathers and other decorations.

But the gloomy skies weren't keeping fans from drinking, eating and partying. In the infield, fans were in rubber boots and covered themselves as best they could.

The rain, of course, wasn't a problem for the high rollers, who were warm and dry in their suites and on celebrity-studded Millionaire's Row.

Updated May 4, 2013

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