01/10/2008 12:00AM

Lovely Isle a likely pick


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Lovely Isle is a former claimer and the least-experienced member in the starting lineup for Saturday's $150,000 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park. But that probably won't prevent her from being the betting favorite in the Grade 2 race for 3-year-old fillies to be decided at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Lovely Isle rallied to a 3 3/4-length victory launching her career for a $50,000 claiming price at Aqueduct on Oct. 31. She returned five weeks later to thoroughly dominate $50,000 starter allowance competition, drawing off to a 16 1/2-length triumph and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 after covering six furlongs in 1:09.65.

That performance caught the eye of trainer Bobby Frankel, who purchased Lovely Isle, a daughter of Double Honor, privately for owner Michael Bello. Frankel immediately turned her over to fellow trainer Richard Dutrow Jr., who shipped the filly to his winter base at Palm Meadows, where he has prepared her for her stakes debut in the Old Hat.

"She's trained like clockwork since I got her," said Dutrow.

Lovely Isle will receive a class check in the Old Hat against a field that includes stakes winners Elusive Lady, Indy's Alexandra, Throbbin' Heart, A Little Gem, the Grade 2 stakes-placed Melissa Jo, and recent winners Game Face and Cozy Mesa.

Elusive Lady and Melissa Jo will turn back from nine furlongs after finishing second and third behind Mushka in the Grade 2 Demoiselle in their 2-year-old finales. Elusive Lady had won 2 of her 3 previous starts, including the Grade 3 Tempted at a mile.

Like Lovely Isle, Indy's Alexandra is also undefeated, having won all three of her previous starts, including Calder's 1 1/16-mile Three Ring Stakes by four lengths.

Throbbin' Heart ended her 2-year-old campaign with a pair of victories, including the six-furlong Xtra Heat Stakes over Aqueduct's inner track on Dec. 6. A daughter of Smoke Glacken, she has never been worse than second in four starts.

A Little Gem captured Monmouth Park's Sorority Stakes in September but must improve off a fourth-place finish under allowance conditions at Calder.

Game Face and Cozy Mesa exit career-best performances. Game Face earned a Beyer Figure of 93 for a 7 1/4-length maiden win on Nov. 23, while Cozy Mesa easily defeated entry-level allowance company going a mile at Churchill Downs the following day.