11/15/2006 12:00AM

Selvatica looks formidable

Email

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Selvatica's four-race winning streak has struck fear in rival trainers with starters in Friday's $53,000 Manta Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Both David Hofmans, who trains Bella Banissa, and John Sadler, who starts Wild Storm, consider Selvatica to be the mare to beat in the six-furlong turf race.

Jeff Mullins, who trains Selvatica for Granja Vista Del Rio Stable, agrees with their opinion.

"She will be tough," Mullins said.

Sadler is fully aware of Selvatica's ability. He trained the 5-year-old mare before she was transferred to Mullins earlier this year. Selvatica won 3 of 6 starts for Sadler, including two allowance races in 2005. For Mullins, Selvatica is unbeaten in two stakes this fall - the Bangles and Beads at Fairplex Park on Sept. 25 and the Pine Tree Lane at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting on Oct. 22.

In the Pine Tree Lane, Selvatica took her customary position on the lead, set blistering fractions of 21.50 and 43.62 seconds, and drew off to win by three lengths.

"I was a little worried about the half-mile pole when I saw the fraction, but she kept going," Mullins said.

Selvatica could face pressure on the front from Bella Banissa, who led throughout an optional claimer on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita on Oct. 13. The win ended a five-race losing streak.

Hofmans credits Hollywood Park's synthetic surface for helping Bella Banissa's soundness.

"I think the dirt tracks were really tearing her up," Hofmans said. "She's gotten herself together and is sound. She's a different filly than she was before."

Displaying her speed, Bella Banissa worked five furlongs at Hollywood Park in 57.20 seconds on Sunday.

"She worked too fast the other day, but she did so easily," Hofmans said.

Cross, trained by Doug O'Neill, has the speed to contend. She won an allowance race at Santa Anita in her last start, on Oct. 19.

Wild Storm would benefit from a fast pace. She tends to race near the front, but not always on the lead.

Wild Storm will be Sadler's first starter for owner Edmund Gann. The filly was previously trained by Bobby Frankel.

The race marks the California debut of Running Bobcats, a Florida-bred now trained by Jack Carava. Running Bobcats won the Distaff Turf Sprint Handicap at Calder in July.