11/21/2014 12:34PM

Locals look to defend home track on Land of Enchantment card

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Dustin Orona Photography
Tonito M., the winner of the Oklahoma Derby, likely will be the favorite Wednesday in the Zia Park Derby on the Land of Enchantment Day card at Zia Park.

Zia Park-based trainers Justin Evans and Joel Marr will be out to defend the Hobbs, N.M., track from an onslaught of shippers for Wednesday’s $1.1 million Land of Enchantment card. Evans, who has a double-digit lead in the trainer standings, has Belleofthebeach in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks and the streaking Alsono in the $200,000 Zia Park Derby. Marr will be represented in the Zia Park Derby by the undefeated Proceed.

“I think the local horses could have the upper hand because they’ve been training over the track,” Evans said.

The Land of Enchantment card is comprised of seven stakes, including five for Thoroughbreds. The card was introduced last year as a means to showcase the newly created Zia Park Oaks, a 1 1/16-mile race that officials hope will develop into a graded stakes. Wednesday’s program will start at 12:15 p.m. Mountain.

Belleofthebeach is seeking to start a new win streak in the Zia Park Oaks. She had won four straight, including two stakes, until her last start, when she ran third in the $55,000 Chaves County on Sept. 29 at Zia. The race was her first against older rivals, and she will be returning to the divisional 3-year-old ranks Wednesday.

Evans, who trains Belleofthebeach for Teed Off Stable, has given the mount to Irwin Rosendo. Belleofthebeach is 10-1 on the morning line.

The 5-2 favorite Jojo Warrior was third to Untapable in the Grade 1 Cotillion on Sept. 20 at Parx in her most recent start. Other shippers for the seven-horse Zia Park Oaks include Shanon Nicole, who is seeking her third straight stakes win following scores at Indiana Grand and Remington Park, and Cassatt, the winner of the Grade 3 Monmouth Park Oaks in August who has been working at Fair Grounds. Thegirlinthatsong and Taste Like Candy also are due in from out of town for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

:: ZIA PARK: Get PPs, watch Wednesday's card live

The Hollendorfer-trained Tonito M. is the 5-2 favorite for the Zia Park Derby, also run at 1 1/16 miles. Evans will counter with Alsono, who has won three stakes in his last three starts. In his most recent outing, he accounted for the Charles Taylor Derby at the Downs at Albuquerque. It was the sixth career stakes win for the Limehouse colt, who races for Tony Pennington.

“That horse never ceases to amaze me and wins races you didn’t think he could on heart,” Evans said.

Alsono is 10-1 on the morning line for the Zia Park Derby.

Proceed, listed at 8-1, has not made a wrong move in four career starts. He’s won them all by a combined margin of 23 3/4 lengths, his latest score coming in a divisional sprint stakes on the New Mexico Cup Classic card at Zia in his first start in more than seven months. He will be moving back to both open company and two turns, and the last time he faced such rivals, he won the $120,000 Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland in February.

“He has a good turn of foot when he needs it,” Marr said.

Proceed served notice early that he was a good one, winning his debut by 14 1/2 lengths last November at Zia in a maiden special weight going a mile. Alfredo Juarez Jr. was aboard that day and has the mount again Wednesday. Juarez is the current leading rider at Zia.

Marr’s other stakes starters Wednesday are Ol Winedrinker Who, back to defend his title in the $150,000 Zia Park Distance Championship at 1 1/8 miles, and Hank N Lefty Who and Desert Stepper in the $140,000 Eddy County for 2-year-olds bred in New Mexico.

Evans also has stakes starters in the $75,000 Zia Park Distaff at six furlongs, with African Rose representing the meet’s leading owner, Judge Lanier Racing, and Warrens Venedalucy to start for Ace Racing Stable.

The stakes on the Wednesday card can be seen on HRTV and TVG, while the races also will be broadcast on HRRN, according to Zia. A track official said a flight bringing horses from Southern California is scheduled for Monday.