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Local racing fans prepare for Kentucky Derby
Turf Club pic2
Over 500 racing fans are expected to fill the Turlock Turf Club on Saturday for the club's annual Kentucky Derby Party. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal

It's called the greatest 2 minutes in sports. For the Turlock Turf Club, however, the Kentucky Derby is a whole day event.

The Turf Club, which averages about 100 horse racing fans on any given weekend, expects a crowd of 500 to 600 to fill the Turlock facility for its annual Kentucky Derby Party on Saturday — which starts at 7 a.m.

"It's the main event," said Turlock Turf Club manager Ray Simpson about the Kentucky Derby, the first of the three races that make up the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.

Not only will racing fans get a chance to bet on their favorites to win this year's Derby, racing memorabilia and Stanislaus County Fair tickets will be raffled off and, of course, there will be lots of food.

"You get quite a bit of excitement," said Simpson of the annual Derby party. "You get the yelling and screaming and jumping up and down."

All the hoopla is great, but what racing fans really care about is picking the winners. How do local racing fans pick their favorites?

"They've all got their own methods...they do their homework all week long," said Simpson.

Turf Club regular Isaac Enwia said he likes to get together with a group of friends the night before the big race and handicap the form. What exactly is handicapping? According to thoroughbred racing blog Hello Race Fans! it's analyzing any and all data available about a race in order to predict the outcome. This could include reviewing the past performance of the horses in the race, reading the racing charts of the starters’ prior races, watching race replays of the starters’ prior races, viewing the starters in the paddock, and watching the starters in the post parade and warm-up

Enwia said when picking winners, he primarily pays attention to how a horse looks on the track, and sometimes if a jockey looks particularly hot that season. Although he has a method, it doesn't usually pay off.

"I'm not good at picking horses for the Kentucky Derby; I never get the top four horses," said Enwia.

To get into the action, check out the Turlock Turf Club, located on Soderquist behind the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Doors open at 7 a.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 634-2870.