06/29/2010 12:00AM

Young has high hopes for juveniles


Trainer Bob Young has a quality pair of 2-year-olds to fire at separate stakes at Louisiana Downs on Saturday. The undefeated Aces N Kings is being pointed to the $50,000 Minstrel, while impressive debut winner Smokey Ritz is set to run in the $50,000 Princess.

The races will be part of a four-stakes program that also includes two routes for 3-year-olds and up -- the $50,000 Barksdale and $50,000 Top Corsage. All four stakes are scheduled for turf, but with a good deal of rain in the forecast, there is a chance Aces N Kings may not make his turf debut in the five-furlong Minstrel.

"We'll just have to wait and see if it stays on the grass or comes off," Young said Tuesday. "They've got rain predicted all week."

Aces N Kings has been racing at Lone Star Park, where he has won his three career starts by a combined margin of 9 1/4 lengths. In his most recent out, he won the $60,000 colts and geldings division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity on June 5.

"He's an honest colt," said Young, who trains Aces N Kings for Caroline Dodwell. "He's the kind of colt that will relax. You can kind of do different things with him, so that's helpful."

Eguard Tejera, aboard for all three of Aces N Kings's starts, has the mount in the Minstrel.

Smokey Ritz was an open-lengths winner of her career debut, which came in a maiden special weight sprint at Louisiana Downs on June 12.

"She didn't get away real good but then went up on the lead with them," Young said. "In the stretch, she pulled away and opened up about four [lengths]. She looked pretty good."

Smokey Ritz is by Smoke Glacken. Her dam is Miss Ritz, a five-time stakes winner who was trained by Young. Miss Ritz's victories included the Friendship Stakes at Louisiana Downs in 2001. She raced for Ken Murphy, the breeder and owner of Smokey Ritz.

Jesse Campbell has the mount in the Princess.

Retama maintains top stakes

Retama Park, which last month was debating whether it would run its premier stakes, the El Joven and La Senorita, this meet, has scheduled the two races for Oct. 23. The purse for each has been trimmed from $100,000 to $75,000.

The El Joven is for 2-year-olds at a mile on turf, and the La Senorita is for 2-year-old fillies at the same distance. The initial nominations for the races close Friday.

Retama has asked the Texas Racing Commission for approval to reduce its upcoming Thoroughbred meet from 30 dates to 16 in a season that would run from Sept. 3-Oct. 23. The panel is expected to hear the request July 7.

Horsemen to discuss Texas dates

There are two general horsemen's meetings this week to discuss a possible consolidation of race dates for Texas in 2011. Management of the state's tracks will be in attendance to outline their proposal and take questions. The first meeting is Thursday at Lone Star. It will be held at 11 a.m. in the sales pavilion. The second meeting is Friday at Sam Houston. It will be on the suites level in the grandstand at 11 a.m.

There has been months of discussion on dates, with one proposal being for Lone Star to run the bulk of the state's Thoroughbred dates in 2011. The Texas Horsemen's Partnership has not yet endorsed any plan. The track's date requests for next year are expected to be heard during the Texas Racing Commission's meeting in September.

* Lone Star and Sam Houston, which is racing Quarter Horses, will put on major fireworks programs after the races on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be a special post of 5 p.m. Central for the tracks's cards on both Saturday and Sunday.