12/14/2006 12:00AM

Revved Up tops strong McKnight cast


MIAMI - Long-winded grass specialists on the West Coast got their final chance to enhance their reputations last weekend in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup. On the East Coast, that opportunity comes Saturday at Calder, where 13 long-distance runners are entered in the 1 1/2-mile W. L. McKnight Handicap.

The Grade 2, $200,000 McKnight and its filly counterpart, the $200,000 La Prevoyante Handicap, highlight Saturday's Grand Slam II card, which also includes the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper and Grade 3 Kenny Noe handicaps.

Revved Up, second behind Meteor Storm in last year's McKnight, will be the starting highweight under 122 pounds and the likely favorite this year, but will have his work cut out in a deep and talented field.

Revved Up, 8, has won 5 of his 6 starts since last year's McKnight but only one of those victories came against graded competition, and trainer Christophe Clement knows that this resilient gelding will have to be at his best to earn his 18th career victory.

"That's a lot of weight to carry considering most of his races this year have been under allowance conditions," said Clement. "But he's doing very well, and it's great Calder has races like the McKnight and La Prevoyante for these type of horses at the end of the year."

There is no shortage of contenders for bettors looking to beat the favorite, although finding the most likely alternative to Revved Up is not easy.

Trainer Thomas Voss will use both quality and quantity in his attempt to beat the favorite, sending out Always First and the 2004 McKnight winner, Dreadnaught, as an uncoupled entry.

Always First, a Grade 2 winner at the distance in 2005, finished third, nearly four lengths behind Revved Up, in Keeneland's Grade 3 Sycamore Breeders' Cup. He receives a four-pound break in the weights for Saturday's rematch.

Dreadnaught, fourth in the McKnight a year ago, is winless in eight starts this year but was second in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch and Grade 2 Dixie handicaps earlier in the season.

Spider Power and Ramazutti, first and second going 1 1/2 miles at Calder three weeks ago in the Wicapi Handicap, are also key contenders. Ramazutti again figures to set the pace under jockey John Velazquez. Spider Power is a steadily improving 3-year-old who won the Wicapi in his first attempt at racing 1 1/2 miles.

Other top contenders include Interpatation, Devil's Preacher, Dave, Embossed, and Big Prairie.