11/13/2003 1:00AM

Gold Cup attracts diverse talent


The field for the $100,000 Gold Cup for Louisiana-breds at Delta Downs on Saturday night is like a grab bag. The full field includes top statebred sprinters Donna's Mailbag and Zarb's Luck; White Star, a leading older horse; and top Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds Spritely Walker and Witt Ante.

Aside from the rich purse, part of the race's allure is its distance. At one mile, the race catches a cross-section of horses, including sprinters who might be willing to stretch out over a six-furlong track like Delta.

The timing of the Gold Cup is also appealing. The Gold Cup serves as a prep for the Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds on Dec. 13, and should also produce starters for the $1 million Premier Night for statebreds at Delta on Feb. 7.

Donna's Mailbag will be making his two-turn debut Saturday after winning six-furlong races in his last two starts. He has won 6 of his last 7, and, in his most recent race won the $55,000 Cajun over Zarb's Luck.

Donna's Mailbag makes his first start for trainer Bobby Barnett on Saturday and will be ridden by Tim Doocy.

Spritely Walker seems to be at his best around two turns, and in his last start won the $82,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby. He will have to overcome post 10, but could get a nice pace to chase with the sprinters in the Gold Cup. Steve Bourque rides for trainer Steve Asmussen.

White Star will get back to dirt, the surface on which he has had most of his success. He has won three of his last five starts, including the $82,000 Shiskabob on turf in his last start. Marlon St. Julien has the mount for trainer Corale Richards.

* Ten Times Better should be closer to the pace than he was in his last start when he runs in the $50,000 Calcasieu, a five-furlong race for 2-year-old colts and geldings bred in Louisiana. Also in the field are stakes winners Nitro Chip and Irockdasauce.

Ten Times Better established himself as one of the top 2-year-olds at Evangeline Downs this summer when he won a trial race for the $93,000 D.S. "Shine" Young Memorial by 12 1/2 lengths and returned to win the finale in July.

Ten Times Better was within two lengths of the lead in those races, but in his last start he broke slowly and was bothered early in the $55,000 Stardust. He managed to close for fourth and has since worked from the gate.

Ten Times Better is trained by Keith Bourgeois and will be ridden by Guy Smith.