02/26/2009 1:00AM

Gulf Coast Classic a tough one to figure


Get out the darts.

The $75,000 Gulf Coast Classic at Delta Downs on Saturday night is so competitive that the track's linemaker has the favorite, Smokeyjonessutton, at 7-2, and the co-second choices, Acting Zippy and Red Rock Creek, at 5-1.

"We had a hard time putting a line on it," said Steve Nick, who sets the odds for Delta. "It was a really tough race."

The Gulf Coast is one of two 1 1/16-mile stakes for 4-year-olds and up on the card. The other is the $75,000 Goddess for fillies and mares, which drew the comebacking Alina.

Acting Zippy has been sent off at double-digit odds in each of his last five starts, but has delivered twice during that period, with his biggest score coming in the $100,000 Delta Downs Mile on Dec. 5. A winner at one turn and two, he will be moving back to a route for the Gulf Coast.

"I think he's probably better going long than he is sprinting," said Don Bennett, who trains Acting Zippy and co-owns the horse.

The Gulf Coast drew a field of 10, including Forty Grams, Missed the Prom, and Crook's Stinger.

"It looks like he's got the same bunch to beat that was in the Delta Mile," Bennett said.

Acting Zippy closed rapidly to win the Delta Mile by a neck over Smokeyjonessutton and Missed the Prom. Also in the field was Forty Grams and Crook's Singer. New faces Saturday night include Stonehouse, who will get respect after earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 for a runner-up finish in a $62,500 optional claiming route race at Fair Grounds in his last start, Feb. 15.

"He ran big, just got beat right on the wire," said Spanky Broussard, who trains Stonehouse.

Stonehouse, who was making his first start since December, is one of several horses in the field with speed. He set the pace last time but is not one-dimensional, said Broussard.

Red Rock Creek, a winner of more than $500,000, is making his Delta debut in the Gulf Coast.

Goddess: Alina comes off layoff

Alina returns to the site of the biggest performance of her career for the Goddess. The last time she was at Delta she was an 18 3/4-length winner of the $75,000 Green Oaks in March 2008, earning a Beyer Figure of 100.

She will be making her first start since June, when she ran third to eventual Grade 2 winner Storm Mesa in the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows.