After more than a year and a half on the sidelines, grade I winner Fabulous Strike is back in the entry box. And according to trainer Todd Beattie, the 8-year-old gelding looks better than ever.
Walter Downey’s Pennsylvania homebred Fabulous Strike was entered in an allowance race April 9 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, where he will make his first start since finishing second in the Vosburgh Handicap (gr. I) in October 2009. The son of Smart Strike, a fan favorite based at Penn National, has produced a 14-5-0 record from 24 lifetime starts and earned more than $1.4 million. His biggest win came in the 2007 Vosburgh, and he has recorded 11 other stakes victories, including four additional graded stakes.
Fabulous Strike underwent stem cell treatment at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., last year to help him recover from a ligament strain in his pastern. He has worked steadily for Beattie at Penn National for much of the winter—with the exception of a minor setback—and seems ready for his comeback effort.
He is listed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of six going six furlongs on the main track for a $38,000 purse. Dana Whitney has the mount.
"We missed about two or three weeks with him because of a small sickness and trying to avoid some off tracks because of bad weather,” Beattie said. “Plus, I couldn’t find a spot for him. But he’s doing really well.
“People are always asking me if I think he has lost something. If he has, I can’t see it. He gets up every morning and is ready to go to work. He acts like a spring chicken, not some old horse. Truthfully, he acts more like a 2-year-old than anything.
"We’ll see what happens. Maybe when he gets headed or something we’ll see that he has lost a little something. But I sure can’t tell from how he works.”
This is the second lengthy layoff Fabulous Strike has come back from in his remarkable career. He missed more than nine months between September 2007 and June 2008 while recovering from a lung abscess. He has also had several foot issues Beattie has constantly worked to help him overcome.
“Even when he was winning all those races, I never really felt like we had all our ducks in a row,” Beattie said. “It was always something—a sickness, his foot, a shoe ripped off, the lung. As we sit here now, this is the best his feet have ever been.
"It’s crazy, but in some ways he might be a little better than he was before. He weighs 1,280 pounds. When he won the Vosburgh he was 1,256 pounds. So, he’s in good flesh.”
If Fabulous Strike runs well April 9, Beattie said the Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial Stakes—a race he won at Delaware Park in 2008 en route to missing the Vosburgh by a head—would be a logical next spot on May 7. The ultimate goal would be to get back to the Vosburgh in September, but that is a long way off.
“It has been a long time between races, but he’s doing great,” Beattie said. “We’ll see what happens.”