12/06/2012 5:43PM

Sunland Park: Evans sends Warren's Knockout in KLAQ Handicap


Justin Evans has been a dominant force in the New Mexico training ranks this year, and on Saturday he will attempt to get his Sunland Park season started on a high note with Warren's Knockout. The horse is one of the top contenders in the $50,000 KLAQ Handicap, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up that serves as the mixed meet's first stakes for Thoroughbreds.

Evans, 31, has won Thoroughbred training titles this year at the Downs at Albuquerque, SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M., and Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M. He has about 35 horses on the grounds at Sunland.

"I'm trying to complete the superfecta," he said.

Warren's Knockout won a $25,000 optional claiming allowance at 6 1/2 furlongs at Zia in his last start Nov. 3. He stalked the pace and went on to a four-length win, and could come from a little farther off of it off Saturday, when he breaks from the rail under Ry Eikleberry.
"There's a ton of speed in there," said Evans. "It looks like he'll be able to maneuver off the fence and get a pretty good setup.

"Generally, the first part of [this] meet, closers do well. Hopefully it plays that way, as it has in years past."

Warren's Knockout, who races for Len Shermer, faces six others. Those who should ensure pace include City Sage, who wired the field in the $75,000 Hot Springs last meet at Oaklawn; Safe Trip, winner of the $100,000 Premiere Cup at Zia; and Jam'n Jackson, who set a new track record for five and a half furlongs at Zia in September when he won an allowance in 1:01.40.