10/22/2009 11:00PM

Juvenile turf stakes at Retama wide open


A number of the chief contenders in Saturday night's $100,000 El Joven at Retama Park will be trying something different. The race will mark the two-turn debut for Kera's Kitten, the turf debut for Majestic Vintage, and new pace tactics for Prince Eddington.

In all, a field of 12 juveniles will start in the one-mile turf race, which shares a card with the $100,000 La Senorita for 2-year-old fillies. It, too, will be run at a mile on turf.

Kera's Kitten enters the El Joven off a debut win at Kentucky Downs, where he wired the field in a six-furlong maiden special weight on Sept. 21. He won by a length to become the latest turf winner for his hot sire, Kitten's Joy. Saturday night, Kera's Kitten will attempt to stretch his speed in the El Joven.

"I think like a lot of the other Kitten's Joys, he's going to relish the two turns," said Mike Maker, who trains Kera's Kitten for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

Julien Leparoux has the mount on Kera's Kitten, who could advance to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf with the right kind of performance in the El Joven.

Trainer Allen Milligan will counter with Prince Eddington, who two starts ago was second by a head in the $50,000 Sunny's Halo at a mile on turf at Louisiana Downs. He raced with the pace that afternoon, but changed tactics last time out when sixth under Don Simington in the $148,000 Sunday Silence at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 19.

"I asked Donnie to take him back and I don't think that's going to be the way he's going to want to run," Milligan said. "I think he was a little discouraged. I think he needs to be in the hunt."

Majestic Vintage has been a horse that trainer Cash Asmussen has long wanted to try on turf because his dam, Darling Dame, is by turf influence Lyphard. Majestic Vintage won the $89,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity at Lone Star Park in June, and enters the El Joven off a sharp first-level allowance win at Remington Park on Oct. 9.

Other top contenders in the field include Perfect Lou, who was second in the Sunday Silence for trainer John Locke.

In the La Senorita at a mile on turf, 12 will go, led by supplemental entries Lisa's Kitten, Seasoned, and C C's Pal. Lisa's Kitten could punch her ticket to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf were she to run a big race in the La Senorita. She last raced at Belmont Park, winning a maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

"She came from way back, which is kind of her style, and finished nicely," Maker said. "Hopefully, she'll get a strong pace in there to enhance her late closing kick."

Leparoux has the mount.

C C's Pal figures to be prominent. She has won her last two races by a combined margin of 25 lengths, and in her most recent led throughout to win an off-the-turf allowance prep for the La Senorita.

"I expect her to be toward the front again," said trainer Candy Courtemanche.

Seasoned was second last out in the $83,000 Happy Ticket, an off-the-turf route stakes at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 19. Prior to that, she won her debut in a 7 1/2-furlong maiden race on turf, also at Louisiana Downs.

"She's pure grit," said Al Stall Jr., who trains Seasoned. "She goes out there and tries really hard."

Curt Bourque will ride Seasoned, while Carlos Marquez will be aboard C C's Pal.