01/21/2005 12:00AM

Pletcher unveils talented import


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher transformed Chilean-bred Host into a two-time graded stakes winner in the United States in 2004. Pletcher is hoping to have similar success this year with his newest Chilean-bred acquisition, Isola Piu Bella, who looks like the horse to beat when she launches her U.S. career in Sunday's $60,000 Banshee Breeze Stakes. The 1 1/8-mile Banshee Breeze drew a full field of 12 fillies and mares.

Isola Piu Bella is a 5-year-old daughter of Rich Man's Gold. Purchased by the Sumaya Us Stables, the same group who own the stakes winner Newfoundland, Isola Piu Bella was unraced at 2 but won 6 of 11 starts, including four Group 1 races, at 3. She has not started since winning the Clasico Haras de Chile by 8 1/4 lengths on Dec. 20, 2003.

"I sure hope she turns out to be as nice as Host," said Pletcher. "She's trained very well since she's been here, and I've been impressed by what I've seen thus far. We're hopeful she'll become a top-class filly, and I've been pointing her for this race for a while, although the first time you have a horse run in this country you never really know what to expect."

has been working steadily and at times spectacularly at Palm Meadows with a tab that includes a 59.40-second five-furlong work on Dec. 27.

If Isola Piu Bella needs a race, the Banshee Breeze figures to be a wide-open affair with at least a half-dozen possible winners.

closed out her 3-year-old year running second in the Grade 3 Anne Arundel Stakes at Pimlico, then scoring by six lengths in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Ladies Handicap.

returned to the main track for her 2004 finale following a steady diet of turf races, and scored a 14-length victory in Calder's Flying Concert Stakes.

Passing Shot won the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap in August 2003 and the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap last spring, but must rebound off a dull effort - last of seven in Calder's Stage Door Betty Handicap on New Year's Day.

Two Mile Hill is in the best form of her career, having won each of her last two starts, including an overnight stakes at Turfway Park, but she will be facing her most difficult assignment to date in the Banshee Breeze.

Calder's top two filly and mare handicap runners in 2004, Pampered Princess and Redoubled Miss meet again in the Banshee Breeze.