The decision as to whether or not Fabulous Strike will be sent to California for the Breeders’ Cup has not yet been made. For now, the focus is squarely on the $400,000 Vosburgh, where the 6-year-old son of Smart Strike will have to face a short but stellar field of sprinters Oct. 3 at Belmont Park.
Fabulous Strike, who won the Vosburgh in 2007 but missed by a head last year, drew post 5 and was installed as the even-money favorite in the six furlong event. He will meet grade I winner Kodiak Kowboy; Munnings, who won consecutive grade II events at Belmont earlier this season; and Go Go Shoot, an up-and-coming sprinter who missed by only a length to Fabulous Strike last out in the Aug. 9 Albert G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr. II).
Post time for the Vosburgh is scheduled for 3:59 p.m. EDT. It is the second of five grade I races on Belmont’s Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational card.
Fabulous Strike has finished first or second in nine of his past 10 starts dating back to the 2007 Vosburgh. His lone off-the-board finish came last year on an artificial surface in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita. Trainer Todd Beattie said a decision on a return trip to the Breeders’ Cup will be made after the Vosburgh. For now, the dark bay gelding has his work cut out for him.
“He prefers to have some amount of time from race to race,” Beattie said. “And he spins it pretty hard during the race, so he needs that kind of time to recover, you know, to get him at his peak. So not having raced since (Aug. 9) was really by design. I think that’s an advantage for me to have that amount of time.”
Owned and bred by Walter Downey’s Tea Party Stable’s, Pennsylvania-bred Fabulous Strike has produced a 2-2-0 record from four starts this season. Prior to the Vanderbilt he won the True North (gr. II) at Belmont, his fourth stakes win over the track.
Ramon Dominguez will keep the mount on Fabulous Strike, who is out of the Lost Code mare Fabulous Find. He has earned more than $1.3 million from 23 starts.
Repole Stable’s Go Go Shoot led into deep stretch in the Vanderbilt before being run down by Fabulous Strike. The 4-year-old gelded son of Songandaprayer won a pair of sprint stakes at Monmouth prior to that, including the June 6 Longfellow by 9 1/2 lengths. Trainer Bruce Levine said his charge is ready for another crack at Fabulous Strike.
“He’s doing great, and I’m excited about running him,” said Levine. “If you can’t get excited about that, you can’t get excited about anything.”
The speedy Go Go Shoot (6-1) drew post 1 and will likely try to take them gate-to-wire once again under Rajiv Maragh, who will be in the irons for the first time.
The last horse to defeat Fabulous Strike is Vinery Stables’ and Fox Hill Farm’s Kodiak Kowboy (3-1), that coming by a head in the seven-furlong Carter Handicap (gr. I) April 4 at Aqueduct. Since then, Kodiak Kowboy was third in the Vanderbilt, and most recently was runner-up by a half-length to Pyro in the Sept. 5 Forego.
A 4-year-old son of Posse, Kodiak Kowboy was third, beaten three parts of a length in last year’s Vosburgh. Previously trained by Larry Jones, the bay colt is now in the barn of Steve Asmussen. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride.
Munnings won the Woody Stephens (gr. II) and Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont this summer for his first two graded stakes triumphs. The lone 3-year-old in the race, Munnings (7-2) enters off third-place finishes in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth and the Aug. 29 King’s Bishop (gr. II) at Saratoga. Todd Pletcher will keep John Velazquez aboard the son of Speightstown.
Completing the field is Peace Chant, who was 10th in the Forego.
$400,000 Vosburgh (gr. I, Race 7, 3:59 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds and Up, 6 Furlongs (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Go Go Shoot (FL), R Maragh, 124, B N Levine
2. Peace Chant (KY), K J Desormeaux, 124, W Phipps
3. Munnings (KY), J R Velazquez, 122, T A Pletcher
4. Kodiak Kowboy (KY), S Bridgmohan, 124, S M Asmussen
5. Fabulous Strike (PA), R A Dominguez, 124, T M Beattie