06/13/2009 12:00AM

Miss Isella shows grit in Fleur de Lis


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs is Miss Isella's house, and she proved it in winning Saturday's at Churchill Downs, pushing her record to 5 for 7 over the track.

The win did not come easily. Rated in third for much the race, she was bottled up behind a moderate pace of 24.24 seconds, 48.18, and 1:12.07, in the 1 1/16-mile dirt race, but once shown an opening at the top of the stretch by Calvin Borel, she showed her class and heart.

Bulling her way through along the rail, even as the pacesetting Distinctive Dixie drifted and made contact with Miss Isella in early stretch, Miss Isella simply grew more determined, surging to the front and outgaming Swift Temper by three-quarters of a length in a long stretch duel.

"When I got up in the hole, Distinctive Dixie kind of came down and shut me off," said Borel. "She brushed my filly a little bit, but I had a lot of room when I drove her in there."

Swift Temper ran well in defeat but was outfinished by the winner in the final sixteenth of the mile. She lost much more ground than Miss Isella with a three-wide trip throughout under Garrett Gomez.

Miss Isella - like her sire, 1997 Kentucky Derby Silver Charm - has made Churchill Downs the scene of some of her greatest triumphs. Besides her win Saturday, her local victories include the Grade 2 Louisville Handicap on May 1, the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap on Nov. 27, and an allowance and a maiden race earlier in her career.

A 4-year-old owed by Elaine C. Jones and trained by Ian Wilkes, Miss Isella raced 1 1/8 miles on fast track in 1:49.59, paying $5.40 as the favorite.

Swift Temper, a distant third behind the winner over a "good" track in the Louisville Handicap, ran much more competitively with the winner over Saturday's fast surface, but ultimately could not turn the tables, although she was well clear of the rest.

Longshot Temple Street was third, 4 1/2 lengths behind Swift Temper.