02/24/2009 1:00AM

Selva captures her turf debut

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A return to sprinting returned Selva to the winner's circle, as the talented 3-year-old filly won the Mardi Gras Stakes on Tuesday at Fair Grounds by 1 3/4 lengths over her stablemate Fleet Streak.

Selva won the first three starts of her career, all sprints, scoring an 18-1 debut upset at Saratoga before capturing the Sorority at Monmouth and the Glorious Song at Woodbine. And while Selva did not disgrace herself in the Tiffany Lass Stakes last month at Fair Grounds, she did suffer her first defeat, finishing second after setting a strong pace in a two-turn mile.

The Mardi Gras was Selva's turf debut, but at 5 1/2 furlongs, the distance suited her. Into the bit from the start under Robby Albarado, Selva disputed an opening quarter-mile on firm turf in 22.13 seconds, then pulled easily away from pace rival Queen Ernestine around the turn, getting her half-mile in 46.60 seconds. Canadian Frontier made a run at Selva at the quarter pole, nearly drawing even as the field straightened into the stretch. But as Canadian Frontier flattened out, Selva strode out, pulling away in the final furlong to win comfortably for trainer David Carroll and owners Helen Alexander and Helen Groves.

The Carroll-trained second-time starter Fleet Streak rallied from well behind to nip Canadian Frontier for the place.

Selva, the strong favorite, paid just $3.80 to win. She was timed in 1:04.63.