02/20/2009 12:00AM

Miss Isella returns in Sabin

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Miss Isella captured the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs in her 2008 finale.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - There are no household names in Friday's $100,000 Sabin Stakes at Gulfstream Park. But there are plenty who are capable of making a name for themselves this season, beginning with a victory in the Grade 3 Sabin.

Miss Isella, coming off a Grade 2 win in her 2008 finale, and Dreaming of Liz, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie at 2, may be the best known of the nine fillies and mares who will compete in the one-mile Sabin.

Miss Isella successfully made the jump from allowance to Grade 2 competition with her come-from-behind, one-length victory in the Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27. The performance was the fourth straight strong effort for the 4-year-old Miss Isella, all with jockey Calvin Borel aboard.

"She's just an improving filly who keeps getting better and better all the time," said trainer Ian Wilkes. "She had a long year so we gave her a break after the Falls City and we're just hoping she can continue to improve and have an even better year at 4. Our principal goal at the moment is to come back in the Rampart here next month."

The Rampart, a Grade 2 race at 1 1/8 miles, will be contested on March 29.

Borel will fly in from Oaklawn Park to take his regular seat aboard Miss Isella in the Sabin.

Dreaming of Liz will be making her first start since being transferred from trainer Wayne Catalano to Wesley Ward several weeks ago. She has been idle since closing out her 3-year-old campaign by finishing sixth in an allowance at Churchill in November.

Dreaming of Liz won 2 of 9 starts at 3, both stakes, and finished second in the Grade 3 Arlington Park Oaks.

Trainer Steve Asmussen will send out just his second starter at the meet, Alina, in the Sabin. A stakes winner at 2 and 3, the 4-year-old Alina turned in her best effort last spring at Oaklawn when she was second behind Eight Belles in the Grade 2 Fantasy Stakes. Alina has been training at Fair Grounds in preparation for her first start since late June.

The lightly raced One Caroline will get a class check after opening her career with three consecutive victories, including an easy 6 3/4-length allowance win going a mile here on Jan. 15. Trainer Rusty Arnold has secured the services of Edgar Prado to replace the injured Javier Castellano aboard his undefeated 4-year-old filly.