02/27/2003 12:00AM

Bayou last hurrah for Histoire Sainte

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NEW ORLEANS - Histoire Sainte will try to end her career Saturday the same way she began its American phase, with a win in the $150,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap.

But her chances also could dissolve the same way they did the last two seasons, when rain moved the nine-furlong Bayou Breeders' Cup from turf to dirt.

Either way, this is it for Histoire Sainte, a French mare owned by Gary Tanaka who has had a fine career at Fair Grounds and is about to move onto life as a broodmare. Imported here three seasons ago, Histoire Sainte won the Bayou Breeders' Cup in her North American debut, but

didn't win a race away from Fair Grounds until last year, when she scored in a Churchill allowance race. On this grass course, Histoire Sainte has won 4 of 5 starts, her only loss coming when she had trouble in a paceless allowance prep for the $150,000 Bayou BC on Jan. 30.

"It's been weird," said trainer Steve Asmussen. "The first year she won this. The next two years she didn't even get to run."

The field for the Bayou stands at 11, a number that will dwindle if the wet weather here continues. Races were off turf Thursday and likely to be moved to the main track on Friday.

Histoire Sainte won the Furl Sail earlier this meet over Quick Tip and Old Money, return rivals on Saturday. The 1 1/8-mile distance of the Bayou BC could play to Quick Tip, who was second in the Furl Sail and second - a half-length in front of Histoire Sainte - in the Jan. 30 allowance.

"A mile and an eighth might be her best distance," said trainer Neil Howard of Quick Tip. "I thought she ran well the other day. That horse of Tom's is no slouch."

That horse is the Tom Amoss-trained Spectacular Dove, who enters the Bayou BC on a five-race win streak, though she hadn't beaten horses of real quality until her recent allowance win. Now that she shows she fits at the stakes level, Spectacular Dove must prove she can be effective at distances beyond a mile.

Snow Dance, who shipped here from Florida on Thursday, could be favored, though she hasn't started since October. Trained by John Ward, Snow Dance finished second last fall in the Grade 2 WinStar Galaxy, and Saturday's race is her first start outside graded stakes company in close to two years.

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