01/05/2005 1:00AM

Four stakes winners clash at Delta


Delta Downs has no stakes race on Friday night, but the $20,000 fourth race has the feel of one. Among the eight entered in the five-furlong allowance are stakes winners Joyful Tune, Front Nine, Believe Im Special, and Run Zeal Run.

Joyful Tune won an 870-yard race against Quarter Horses in his last start, Nov. 11 at Louisiana Downs. He drew clear by 6 1/4 lengths in the $15,000 allowance, and the second-place finisher, Not Much Color, returned to win his next start. Prior to that race, Joyful Tune ran second in two Delta sprints behind Believe Im Special, including the $40,000 Racino Inaugural on Oct. 1.

Brian Hernandez will ride Joyful Tune for trainer Cole Norman, who has won with 13 of 37 starters at this meet.

Front Nine adds blinkers on Friday night in his first start since finishing sixth in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas at Sam Houston Race Park on Nov. 20. Weldon Cloninger has the mount for trainer Tommie Morgan.

Run Zeal Run invades from Mountaineer, where he finished third last out in a 4 1/2-furlong stakes on Aug. 7. Kirk LeBlanc has the mount for trainer Riley Gilbert III.

* Jockey Steve Bourque, who has not ridden since fracturing an ankle when a mount flipped in the starting gate on Nov. 13, was named on horses this week. Bourque is a seven-time jockey champion at Delta.