10/13/2011 3:06PM

Retama: Turf course reopens in time for El Joven, La Senorita


Mother Nature must like the El Joven at La Senorita.

The drought conditions that have kept Retama Park from racing on turf all season have lifted some and the San Antonio-area track will be able to run Saturday night’s stakes double on the grass. They will be the first turf races at the meet that opened Sept. 1.

“I think the ground will have some cut and give because we’ve had some bunches of rain here the past couple of weeks,” said Doug Vair, a spokesman for Retama. “I don’t think the ground will be hard.”

The El Joven and La Senorita are both for 2-year-olds at a mile and each race is worth $75,000. The meet’s marquee stakes, they are also part of a pick four being offered on races 7-10. Each leg features a large field starting with the La Senorita, which drew 10 fillies, including the Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned entry of Sisterhood and San Gatito.

Both horses were supplemented to the race, as were Keewatin Ice and Striking Blondie. But it appears the horse to beat is Nothinbettertodo, a daughter of Gold Legend who has run second in two dirt stakes and now tries turf for Clarence Scharbauer Jr. and trainer Bret Calhoun.

“I think the Gold Legends have been versatile, they can go turf or dirt,” Calhoun said. “And she’s out of an Elusive Quality mare, which is strong turf. So pedigree-wise, I think the turf will be fine for her.”

The La Senorita will also be the two-turn debut for Nothinbettertodo, and Calhoun said he does not believe the mile distance will be an issue for the filly

Calhoun also has a top El Joven contender in Easton Jack, who will be out to turn the tables on frequent rival Tequila Factor. Easton Jack won his maiden in a turf route in his second career start July 10, then played runner-up to Tequila Factor in the $50,000 Sunny’s Halo at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 9. Easton Jack has raced one more time since, and finished fifth in the $150,000 Sunday Silence, also at Louisiana Downs, on Sept. 11.

“I don’t really know what happened to him last time, maybe too many hard races in a short period of time,” Calhoun said. “I have no explanation except I think the heat in the summer, too many races in a close proximity, and shipping, all that [might have caught up with him]. I think he’s fresh and ready to go now.”

Easton Jack drew well in post 2, while Tequila Factor, the probable favorite as a turf route stakes winner, will break from the widest gate Saturday.

“The nine-hole isn’t so bad,” said his trainer, Ingrid Mason. “He’s doing really well. I feel like the horse should run a big race. I think he should run to his odds.”

Retama will offer free admission, as well as $1 hot dogs and 50-cent sodas on what is the biggest night of the meet that runs through Nov. 5.