03/24/2005 1:00AM

Few challenge Isola Piu Bella

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EQUI-PHOTOS
Isola Piu Bella will be odds-on against just four foes in the Rampart.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - A year ago, the imposing presence of Sightseek scared away the opposition and resulted in only a four-horse field for Gulfstream Park's $250,000 Rampart Handicap. This year the culprit is Isola Piu Bella, who figures to be the odds-on favorite against only four other fillies and mares in Saturday's Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Rampart.

The Rampart is one of two graded stakes races on Saturday's card. The other, the Grade 3, $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes on the turf, drew a field of nine 3-year-olds, including an entry.

, a multiple Group 1 winner in her native Chile at 3, came highly touted for her U.S. debut here on Jan. 23 but finished a disappointing third behind Pampered Princess in the Banshee Breeze Stakes. She bounced back five weeks later to reverse that decision, easily drawing off to a 2 1/2-length victory over Pampered Princess in the Grade 3 Sabin Handicap. Like the Rampart, both of those races were decided at nine furlongs.

"Obviously she loves the distance and runs well here," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Isola Piu Bella for the Sumaya Us Stables. "She moved forward from her first to her second start in this country, and if she just maintains the same form she showed in the Sabin, she's the horse to beat on Saturday."

Isola Piu Bella picks up two pounds off her win in the Sabin and will carry high weight of 118 pounds. Jockey Eibar Coa replaces regular rider John Velazquez, who is riding in Dubai on Saturday.

The much-improved Pampered Princess set a contested pace in both her previous meetings with Isola Piu Bella and again figures to be on the lead in the rubber match. Pampered Princess has finished worse than second just once in her last seven starts dating back to Aug. 4 and will receive a three-pound weight shift in her favor off her previous encounter with Isola Piu Bella in the Sabin. Regular rider Eddie Castro again has the call.

D'Wildcat Speed, third behind Madcap Escapade in the Grade 2 Shirley Jones Handicap on Feb. 19, is stretching out around two turns for the first time in 11 months and also figures to be right with the pace. D'Wildcat Speed was a multiple Group 1 winner going a route of ground in Puerto Rico at 3.

My Dear Lady and India Halo, both allowance winners earlier in the meet, complete the lineup.

Tadreeb, runner-up to the favored Dubleo in the Dave Feldman Stakes on Feb. 27, may be the slight favorite in the wide-open Palm Beach. Tadreeb rallied from midpack but could not stay with Dubleo in late stretch when beaten a half-length in the Feldman. Tadreeb had defeated a strong field of entry-level allowance rivals over the same course four weeks earlier.

"I was very pleased with his last race," said trainer Mark Hennig. "The winner had a big experience edge on him, and my horse also lugged in turning for home. He should progress a bit off the race, and a mile and one-eighth figures to suit him nicely."

Tadreeb's main competition in the Palm Beach could come from Fire It Up, who won two in a row in Louisiana for trainer Dallas Stewart. Both victories came over the turf course at Fair Grounds.

The remainder of the field includes the entry of So Swanky and Prince Rahy, plus Killenaule, Interpatation, Fishy Advice, Champagne Brunch, and Gun Salute.