02/16/2010 1:00AM

Chantilly Nayla conquers dirt in Mardi Gras


NEW ORLEANS - First Polytrack, then turf, and now dirt - there apparently is no racing surface on which the 3-year-old filly Chantilly Nayla cannot succeed.

Chantilly Nayla won the $58,800 Mardi Gras Stakes on Tuesday at Fair Grounds, beating six other 3-year-old fillies and surviving a lengthy inquiry. Chantilly Nayla rallied up the rail through upper stretch, then was switched to the two path by jockey James Graham in the final furlong. She brushed briefly with Kinsolving to her outside, then made contact with the horse to her inside, tiring pacesetter Hathor's Legacy, who appeared to be drifting out. But after a thorough review, Fair Grounds stewards made no change to the order of finish, with Kinsolving finishing second, and Hathor's Legacy third.

Favored Wicked Uno pressed the pace but had nothing for the stretch run, tiring to last in a race switched from turf to dirt because of a wet course.

Chantilly Nayla won twice on Polytrack in 2009, and in her lone previous start this meet rallied from behind a false pace to win a two-turn entry-level turf allowance. Her trainer, Neil Pessin (who took over Chantilly Nayla's training from Chris Block for the winter), was uncertain how Chantilly Nayla would handle her dirt debut Tuesday.

"She trains all right on dirt, but she doesn't stride as well on it as on the Poly or turf," Pessin said.

Chantilly Nayla won for the fourth time in six starts, paying $13 while running 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.75. A Five Star Day filly, she is owned by Salman Rashed.