02/20/2008 1:00AM

Howard sends first runner to Delta


Crossword will be trainer Neil Howard's first starter at Delta Downs when the horse runs in Friday night's $50,000 Delta Mile. The race is one of two open-company stakes on the program, and both are designed as preps for a set of $100,000 stakes on March 21.

Crossword invades from Fair Grounds, where in his last three starts he has finished second in the $58,000 Tenacious Handicap on Dec. 1, won a $75,000 optional claiming race at a mile Dec. 24, and finished fifth in the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap on Jan. 12. Howard then targeted the Delta Mile.

"It looked like a good spot for him," he said. "It looked like an evenly matched race."

Crossword, whose main rivals appear to be Beta Capo and Going Wild, drew post 2. He will be ridden by Robby Albarado and might get a stalking trip behind High Strike Zone, Going Wild, and Cozy Time.

Return of Miss Atlantic City

Miss Atlantic City will be making her first start since December 2006 in the $50,000 Golden Triangle, for fillies and mares at a mile. When last seen, Miss Atlantic City upset two Grade 1 winners in the $300,000 Delta Princess at Delta. She will meet a sharp rival Friday in Zarb's Ballerina, who has won 4 of her last 5 starts.

As for Miss Atlantic City, she was sidelined with a strained ligament in an ankle and underwent stem-cell treatment, trainer Keith Desormeaux said. For her return, she has been working at Fair Grounds.

"She's probably going to be a race or two from her top level," Desormeaux said. "Things in her favor are that I've done plenty of works with her and she does like that surface. Delta is a good, safe place to bring her back."

Desormeaux said that after he could not get an allowance to fill for the filly, he pointed her for the Golden Triangle.