It was like a Hollywood scenario.
A little-known jockey, a former newsboy turned horse trainer who remembered a former bookmaker who helped his family during the tough times, and a handsome attorney and restaurateur, who believed his breeding theories and brought all the disparate parts together.
That was the backdrop for yesterday's 14th running of the $50,000-added Native Dancer Handicap at Bowie won by Isella, a 6-to-1 chance ridden by Mark Drury, trained by Leon Blusiewicz and owned by Constantine (Buzz) Beler.
Isella took the lead at the start, surrendered it briefly, then was nursed to the lead by Drury until they hit the stretch turn. There the 4-year-old son of Peace Corps-Challamar was caught by longshot T.V. Hill on the outside and favored Chati on the inside.
The trio ran as a team to the wire, where Drury pushed the chestnut colt over the finish line a neck before T.V. Hill, with Chati three-quarters of a length behind the top pair.
Drury, who once was derisively referred to as "Dreary Drury," put up what has to be one of the strongest rides of the meeting. The little-known youngster had served a modest apprenticeship and has gained some prominence since coming together with Blusiewicz and Beler.
Asked if Isella would go the extra distance of the $75,000 Campbell Handicap on March 24, Drury replied, "He can do it. He is all class. He has settled and I can save his speed."
Blusiewicz, who named Isella for the former bookmaker, said, "He's a cinch in the Campbell. Those horses wouldn't have caught him today if they went around again."
Beler, who owns restaurants in Washington and Baltimore, said, "His (Isella's) mother was fast like him, fast and game. She was the heavy favorite for the Arlington Lassie when she went wrong. I did everything in my power to buy her. We have a yearling colt by her and he acts like another good one."
Isella, who carried 114 pounds, was winning his third race in four outings this year. Winning time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:45 3/5.