Miss Isella, upset winner of the Louisville Distaff (gr. II) last out, looks to build upon that score when taking on eight rivals in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) June 13 at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Domino Stud of Lexington and trained by Ian Wilkes, Miss Isella has done her best racing on Churchill’s dirt, where she has posted four of her five career wins. In addition to the Louisville Distaff, in which she defeated heavy favorite One Caroline by three parts of length, Miss Isella won the Falls City Handicap (gr. II) in November at Churchill. The 4-year-old daughter of Silver Charm also broke her maiden and won an allowance over her home track.
The gray/roan filly figures to get her toughest test from grade I winner Santa Teresita in the nine-furlong Fleur de Lis, the third of five graded stakes on Churchill’s program which is highlighted by the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I).
Regular rider Calvin Borel will be aboard Miss Isella, who has earned $436,733 from 14 starts. Out of the Last Tycoon mare La Cucina, she was bred in Kentucky by her owners. Carrying top weight of 122 pounds, Miss Isella will break from post 3.
Southern Equine Stable’s Santa Teresita ships in from her California base for trainer Eric Guillot. The 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid mare won the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) over the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface in February for her first graded stakes triumph. Since then, she has finished runner-up in both the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I) on March 14 and Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) April 18 on Arlington Park’s Polytrack.
In her lone start on natural dirt, Santa Teresita finished a well-beaten seventh in the Delaware Park Handicap (gr. II) last July. Aaron Gryder draws the riding assignment for the first time.
The other graded stakes winner in the field is Mark Stanley’s Swift Temper, who defeated Santa Teresita by a head in the Sixty Sails. Swift Temper, trained by Dale Romans, also won the Gardenia Handicap (gr. III) at Ellis Park last summer. The Giant's Causeway filly was third to Miss Isella, beaten nine lengths, in the Louisville Distaff last out.
Making her season debut is Millennium Farms’ Copper State, a 5-year-old Jump Start mare who has finished runner-up in three graded stakes. An Illinois-bred trained by Steve Asmussen, Copper State took second in the Obeah (gr. III) at Delaware Park, Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga and Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont last year. She was well-beaten in her final two starts of 2008, both at Churchill.
Temple Street, a former claimer, nearly pulled off a shocker in the May 2 Humana Distaff (gr. I) when missing to Informed Decision by three-quarters of a length at 32-1 after making a late run from the back of the field. Trained by Brad Cox, the 5-year-old Street Cry mare was fourth in her most recent try, the Winning Colors (gr. III) on May 25 at Churchill. Julien Leparoux rides.