This year's Belmont Stakes and 13th quest for horse racing's Triple Crown may be a close call with rain and sunshine.
Saturday will mark the 150th running of the Belmont States at Belmont Park, Elmont, Long Island, New York.
Following the storm that brought downpours to end the first weekend of June in the New York City area and Belmont Park, the next chance of drenching rain will occur this weekend.
Whether or not it pours around race time at 6:37 p.m. EDT, Saturday, June 9, as Justify seeks to be the 13th Triple Crown winner will depend on the speed of the next storm.
At this time it appears that heavy, steady rain will hold off until later Saturday night or Sunday on Long Island. However, any increase in forward speed of that storm, which is still out over the Pacific Ocean, may have a wet outcome for the race.
"There is the chance of a shower popping up ahead of the main storm this coming weekend," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
A boundary between cool air over New England and warm, humid air over the central Appalachians, could unleash spotty showers ahead of the main storm along the upper mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday afternoon and evening.
"Belmont has a sandy consistency to the track and drains very well," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Thompson.
"In order for sloppy conditions to occur for the 2018 Belmont Stakes, it would have to pour right before or during the race," Thompson said.
If it manages to pour early Saturday evening, it will end up being soggy for all three legs of the triple crown.
Training and running horses in prolonged wet weather can raise the risk of a hoof injury, according to the Horse.com.
While some horses, such as Justify, seem to handle the wet weather, other horses may not run as well with mud being splattered in their face. Mud may also increase the risk of a horse slipping. Mud may even out some of the competition but cause other horses to fall well off the pace.
Both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness were run in the mud in 2018. The 2018 Kentucky Derby was the wettest on record with more than 3 inches of rain. Rain fell every day for a weak leading up to and including the Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore.
The last horse to win the Triple Crown was American Pharoah in 2015. Prior to 2015, there were no Triple Crown winners since the 1970s, when Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977) and Secretariat (1973) won. Secretariat holds the speed record for all of the three Triple Crown races, including the world record on dirt for 1.5 miles set at Belmont.
This week, conditions leading up to the Belmont Stakes will not be entirely free of rain. A couple of weak storm systems are forecast to move through.
One may bring showers and a thunderstorm from late Tuesday to Tuesday night. Another may do the same from Thursday night to Friday.
However, in lieu of any rain on Saturday evening, there should be enough space between rain events to allow the track to drain off on/by Saturday in what should be an exciting race. A repeat of the week-long downpours experienced at Baltimore leading up to the Preakness is not anticipated.
High temperatures most days this week will be in the 70s F at Belmont. The warmest day is likely to be on Friday, when temperatures may top 80.