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Rain, track conditions could factor into Saturday's Kentucky Derby

Trainer Graham Motion on getting his colt, Irish War Cry ready to run in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. If Irish War Cry wins, Motion would become just the fifth active trainer with multiple Derby wins. (Baltimore Sun video)

LOUISVILLE, KY. — The chilly rain forecast to last through Kentucky Derby day reached Churchill Downs on Thursday, prompting talk of which contender might handle sloppy conditions the best.

For his part, trainer Graham Motion said he's not at all concerned with how his Maryland-based contender, Irish War Cry, might handle the slop.

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Motion has watched Irish War Cry glide easily over the mud in training, and he also takes comfort from the fact the colt's father, Curlin, was formidable in bad weather.

"I watched him gallop over the mud last week at Fair Hill, and he traveled beautifully over it," Motion said. "I would be very surprised if he didn't handle it."

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Trainers tend to shrug off weather as a factor they can't control. But it's another source of uncertainty in a race that's already full of them. With so many talented but inexperienced horses thrown together, it's difficult to say which contender might thrive in the muck and which might falter.

"It's going to be sloppy probably," said Joe Sharp, who trains Derby contender Girvin. "Churchill Downs does a great job maintaining their track under any conditions. That said, you can only do so much with Mother Nature. It's untested waters."

"It's going to make it from a handicapping point of view that much more complicated," Motion said.

All he knows for sure is that he couldn't be happier with his horse after another relaxed morning of training on Thursday.

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"Every morning has been a bit of a progression, which is what I was hoping for," Motion said. "He was very settled today."

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