The controversy surrounding this year’s Kentucky Derby might have a residual effect as Horsemen’s Park prepares for its live meet.

It’s got people thinking and talking about horse racing.

“I haven’t seen this much talk about the sport in 20 years,’’ Horsemen’s Park General Manager Mike Newlin said. “It’s unfortunate the way the Derby played out but it’s got racing back in the limelight.’’

The facility located at 63rd and Q will begin its 22nd year of live racing Saturday with a seven-race card. First post is 2 p.m. on the first of nine race days that will cover five weekends.

Newlin is hopeful that this year’s meet won’t have the nasty weather that plagued last year’s nine-day event. Chilly conditions were followed by extreme heat, which impacted the attendance and mutuel handle.

“We had an unbelievable run of terrible weather,’’ he said. “We only had one day of what I’d call perfect weather.’’

The forecast sounds mostly promising for Saturday and Newlin has a backup plan if rain closes the grass parking lot just west of the facility. Fans can ride a free shuttle over from nearby Ralston Arena starting at 12:30 p.m.

Newlin said he expects a crowd close to the estimated 10,000 that packed the facility on Derby day last Saturday.

“We’re anticipating a big day,’’ he said. “We encourage fans to get out here early.’’

An added bonus Saturday will be an appearance by a team of Clydesdales. The majestic horses will be paraded on the track at 4 p.m. and will be available for photos afterward.

Newlin also was pleased with the number of entries on opening day. Sixty-two horses will go to the post, and four of the seven races will have a full field of 10.

“I’m happy with that,’’ he said. “And I know our fans will be, too.’’

Newlin added that Horsemen’s Park intentionally loaded up its first three weekends of racing. Next Saturday’s card will coincide with the simulcast of the Preakness and the following weekend will include “Family Day’’ and the running of camel and ostrich races.

“We want to get this thing rolling in the right direction,’’ he said. “It was a tough go last year so we’re hoping to do better this year.’’

The track will hold just one live race day opening weekend. Each of the next four weekends will have two race days, with the final day of racing (June 8) coinciding with the simulcast of the Belmont Stakes.

Admission is $5 for adults while fans 17 and under are free. Each adult also receives a free program.

“We are looking forward to a great live meet,’’ Newlin said. “If the weather cooperates, this could be one of our best seasons ever.’’

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