Fabulous Strike, the 1-2 favorite among the four remaining starters in Aqueduct's Gravesend Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) Dec. 27, proved an easy winner of the $103,100 event.
Racing for the first time over Aqueduct's inner turf course, which was rated "good" under foggy conditions, the grade I winner Fabulous Strike surged past pacesetter True Quality leaving the eighth pole en route to a 1 3/4-length victory in the six-furlong test. The Pennsylvania-bred 5-year-old son of Smart Strike now has back-to-back stakes wins at Aqueduct for trainer Todd Beattie after also collecting the Fall Highweight Handicap over the main track Nov. 27.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez kept Fabulous Strike under a firm hold as True Quality bounced away to the early lead. Fabulous Strike rated patiently in second just off the rail as True Quality opened up a three-length lead after quarter-mile fractions of :22.18 and :45.24. Fabulous Strike began to close the gap with three-sixteenths of a mile to run as True Quality sped around the turn. Inside the final furlong, Fabulous Strike, with strong encouragement from Dominguez, edged to the front and drew away in deep stretch. The final time was 1:09.74.
“I was planning on going to the lead, especially with the inside post," Dominguez said. "But (True Quality) was very quick out of the gate and after a few jumps I took hold. Down the lane, he finished up nice. He’s a push-button kind of horse.”
Owned by Walter Downey, Fabulous Strike earned his 12th lifetime win in 19 starts and increased his bankroll to $939,412 with the winning purse of $64,860. The dark bay gelding missed repeating his 2007 victory in Belmont Park's Vosburgh (gr. I) by just a head last September. Following a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Santa Anita Oct. 25, he led all the way in winning the Fall Highweight by 1 1/2 lengths while carrying 136 pounds as the even-money choice.
“I thought rating was always a possibility with him," Beattie said. "Today I just let Ramon make the decision. He didn’t have a smooth training schedule in between his last race and today. I moved him from Penn National to my brother-in-law’s barn at Laurel (because of the track condition). He actually lost some training, which hurt him."
Beattie said he would like to take Fabulous Strike to Dubai for the $2 million Golden Shaheen March 28.
“We’ll go back to Penn National and make a decision in four or five days," he said.
Tea Party Stable bred Fabulous Strike, who is out of Fabulous Find, by Lost Code.
The winner carried high weight of 126 pounds and paid $$3.10 and $2.30.
True Quality ($3.50 to place), ridden by Charles Lopez, held second by 3 1/2 lengths over Good Card. Second choice Lucky Island faded on the turn and finished last. Night Stand, Songster, Grand Champion and Cavallo Pazzo all scratched.