FARMINGTON — Moving is never an easy task.
The process of taking all your belongings from one place to another, the heavy lifting, the driving, the constant "on edge" feel of the entire process.
Take all those emotions and actions into play and imagine doing it twice, three times, four times a year.
And now imagine you're moving animals, with all their behavioral quirks and idiosyncrasies.
Such is the life of a horse trainer, and with opening day occurring today at Sunray Park & Casino, trainer Justin Evans comes into town with a full arsenal of talent at his disposal.
Evans just recently wrapped up a successful season of live racing at Sunland Park as not only the meet's leading trainer, but shattering records across the board.
In a season that could best be described as legendary, Evans won the thoroughbred training title with a record 93 wins from 324 starters.
The barn won at a rate of nearly 30 percent and took home over $1.5 million in purses. Evans-trained runners won eight stakes races during the season, including the $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity with Rebranded.
Evans also scored with both Homerun Berti and African Rose in multiple stakes races this past season.
With that season now over, it's time to move on. Evans will be sending horses not only to Sunray, but also Ruidoso Downs and Arapahoe Park this summer.
"It's tough on every level," Evans said after another marathon day of sending horses and tack on that arduous 448-mile drive from El Paso, Texas to Farmington. "Luckily, this is what I do. I have no other hobbies, I don't play golf, I live and breathe this sport."
Evans will be likely be starting three horses in today's featured race, the $35,000 Inaugural Handicap, a six and one-half furlong race for older horses.
One of those three, Warren's Knockout, owned by Len Schermer, has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Inaugural.
The California-bred son of Stormed is among the many stakes winners Evans saddled at Sunland Park. Last time out, Warren's Knockout was a narrow winner over Wine Police and Isn't He Clever in a thrilling edition of the Bill Thomas Memorial Stakes on March 23.
In addition, Evans will also be starting Happy Toes, a multiple race-winner over the course and Whipstock, who will be making his Sunray Park debut under jockey Aldo Arboleda.
This is all part of the procedure for Evans, who knows this job is not his alone.
"All the credit goes to the people who work with the barn," Evans said. "The grooms, the farriers, it's never just one person who makes all this happen."
Moving a stable of horses requires more than just a little added touch of patience, but doesn't allow for a great deal of time.
"We left Sunland at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, we were here by 5 p.m," Evans recalled. "Then you have to set up tack, get the barn assembled, get the stalls up and running and then be ready the next morning to have horses on the track."
Evans and his wife Vanessa have traveled the circuit together now for a couple years, and it never gets dull.
"It quite literally is like the circus is coming to town," he said.
Sunray's 39-day live season of racing will run four days a week, with post time each day at 1:30 p.m. Racing will be held every Friday through Sunday as well as Tuesday, with the season running through June 22.
Today's Inaugural Handicap is one of three stakes races highlighting opening weekend.
Saturday, the $45,000 Russell and Helen Foutz Distaff Handicap features New Mexico-bred fillies and mares racing six and one-half furlongs, followed by Sunday's $35,000 Animas Quarter Horse Stakes at a distance of 400 yards for 3-year-old fillies.