11/19/2006 1:00AM

Costa Rising captures Gold Cup


He's back. Costa Rising returned to the win column Saturday night at Delta Downs, where he rolled to a four and a half length win over Badtotheboneandrew in the $100,000 Gold Cup. It was another four and a quarter lengths back in third to Belle City Boy.

The Gold Cup was the richest of four Lousiana-bred stakes on the card, with purses for the races worth a cumulative $275,000. The program was designed to offer prep races for some of the stakes to be run during Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds.

That is where Costa Rising ($3) is headed after he came back from two rare defeats and turned in a stirring performance in the Gold Cup. He set the pace throughout the mile and a sixteenth race, leading through fractions of 22.47 for the opening quarter, 46.42 for the half-mile mark and 1:12.45 for six furlongs. Costa Rising drew clear in the stretch, covering the distance over a fast track in 1:44.63.

Mario Reyes was aboard for trainer Joseph Boxie.

The victory was a meaningful one for Costa Rising, who had raced seven days earlier in Kentucky and finished sixth in the $150,000 Commonwealth Turf. For the Gold Cup, he was returning to the Louisiana-bred ranks, where he had won six straight races between April and August. Costa Rising earned $60,000 for the win on Saturday, which was the eighth victory of his career from 14 starts. He has now earned $334,946. A five-time stakes winner, Costa Rising races for Charles Castille Jr.

Double for Hodges

Trainer James Hodges won two of the four stakes on the card, his first coming with Huckie ($12.40) in the $50,000 Creme de la Creme. She became a stakes winner when she stalked and pouced her way to three-quarter length victory in the five furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. Huckie was ridden by Cody Meche.

Later on the card, Hodges sent out Grand Facile ($5.60) to capture the $75,000 Magnolia. She was prominent thorughout for a four length win over Carl's Frosty Gal, and was ridden to victory by Tracy Hebert.

* Margarita Man ($3.40) improved his career record to 4-for-5 when he led throughout for a head win over Atta Boy Jake in the $50,000 Calcasieu for 2-year-olds. Jamie Theriot rode the winner for trainer Scott Blasi.