12/23/2008 12:00AM

Two stakes for statebred juveniles


VINTON, La. - Louisiana-bred

2-year-olds look to end the year on a high note Saturday night at Delta Downs in a pair of five-furlong stakes worth $60,000 apiece.

Foreign Production, who beat open company in the Old Hickory Stakes at Fair Grounds last month, should rule a strong favorite in a field of nine males for the Calcasieu (race 8). Rocket Reese, 2 for 3 for trainer Eric Heitzmann, heads a group of 10 fillies in the Creme de la Creme (race 6).

Two weeks ago, Foreign Production finished third as the 2-5 favorite in the Louisiana Juvenile on Champions Day at Fair Grounds. In that six-furlong race, Foreign Production was up close to a swift pace, stuck his head in front at the eighth pole, but faltered late and was overtaken by 68-1 longshot Break Up and Hawthorne shipper Cocktail Clarence.

"We might have gone a little too fast early," said trainer James Hodges. "It's tough to go 21 and 2 and 45 flat and then hang on at the Fair Grounds. That's a mighty long stretch."

Hodges has given the call to leading rider Gerard Melancon.

Not Grounded, the upset winner of the lucrative D.S. "Shine" Young Futurity at Evangeline Downs in July, is the other stakes winner in the field. He will break from the outside post under veteran Curt Bourque.

Takin' the Bullet, a recent allowance winner locally in his first try over dirt, has a chance to pull an upset. Trained by James Hudson, Takin' the Bullet graduated at first asking over the Louisiana Downs turf in late June and also finished third in the Sunny's Halo Stakes on grass. Diego Saenz will handle the riding chores.

Creme de la Creme favorite Rocket Reese most recently captured an entry-level allowance at Fair Grounds, leading every step of the way while being ridden by Jesse Campbell for the first time.

"Talking to Jesse in the paddock, it looked like we could make the front," Heitzmann said. "There was not a lot of speed in there, but she is tactical enough to lay off of it as well. She has shown promise and we are expecting good things from her."

Reckon returns to action following some freshening after a fruitful summer campaign. She won her first two starts by a combined 15 lengths before finishing second in both the filly division of the Shine Young Futurity and the Laurel Lane Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Colby Hernandez has the call.