02/26/2005 1:00AM

Isola Piu Bella shows her best

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Isola Piu Bella improved markedly in her second U.S. start to win Saturday's Sabin under John Velazquez.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Isola Piu Bella looked like a horse in need of a race when she tired through the final furlong to finish third behind Pampered Princess in her U.S. debut, the Banshee Breeze Handicap. She validated that assumption Saturday, this time kicking on through the stretch to wear down and ultimately draw away from Pampered Princess to post a 2 1/2-length victory in Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 .

Daydreaming, the 3-5 favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Sabin, forced the pace to the stretch before tiring badly and finishing a disappointing fourth in a scratch-reduced field of five fillies and mares.

Isola Piu Bella, a multiple Group 1 winner in her native Chile at 3, was off 13 months before returning in the Banshee Breeze on Jan. 23. A homebred daughter of Rich Man's Gold, she slipped through along the rail to gain a short advantage from Pampered Princess only to falter late and be beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

But after forcing the pace three wide in the Sabin, Isola Piu Bella, ridden by John Velazquez, had plenty left in the tank once settling into the stretch. She again overtook Pampered Princess near the eighth pole, but this time continued on strongly to register an impressive victory. Pampered Princess, as usual, ran on gamely to finish second, a length in front of stablemate Adobe Gold.

Daydreaming, making her first start since winning the Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap on Nov. 26, was another 1 3/4 lengths behind Adobe Gold, with Valiant Dancer a distant trailer.

Isola Piu Bella, who is owned by Sumaya Us Stables, paid $7.20 after covering the distance in 1:50.68 over a fast track.

"She needed time to acclimate herself after coming here from South America, and she just got a little tired the first time," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "I'll probably run her back in the Rampart since the spacing is good and she obviously likes this track."

The Grade 2 Rampart will be run at 1 1/8 miles on March 26.