12/27/2002 12:00AM

Histoire Sainte beats chalk


NEW ORLEANS - Even after four seasons Histoire Sainte's love affair with the Fair Grounds grass course hasn't dimmed. In four races here she never has been beaten, and in Friday's Furl Sail Handicap - on the eve of her seventh birthday - she easily out-kicked the heavy favorite, Quick Tip, under a perfect trip from Shane Sellers.

This year, Histoire Sainte won her first race outside Fair Grounds, scoring an allowance win at Churchill in July. But her performances at Fair Grounds are lengths better than they are anywhere else. To trainer Steve Asmussen, it is the Fair Grounds dirt track as much as the turf course that helps Histoire Sainte. In her daily training here on the dirt track, she travels smoother and sounder than anywhere else. When it's time to race, she is on top of her game.

Histoire Sainte looked the part Friday, prancing through the post parade on her toes. And if Histoire Sainte needed any help, Sellers gave it to her. Presumed Innocent and Salty Farma led through a moderate half-mile in 49.40 seconds, with favored Quick Tip racing in midpack, on the outside and in the clear. Old Money tracked the leaders on the rail and Histoire Sainte followed her, buried on the fence but saving ground.

That is where she stayed around the turn, and when Old Money gave up her position to look for room turning for home, there were Histoire Sainte and Sellers to take the spot. Quick Tip stayed wide and rallied to lead at the stretch call, but Histoire Sainte clearly was going better along the inside. She made the lead at about the furlong pole and drew out to a 1 1/2-length win.

Quick Tip clearly was second, while Old Money rallied mildly to edge Salty Farma for third. Histoire Sainte, owned by Gary Tanaka, paid $11.80 while running about one mile on firm turf in 1:38.43.