07/04/2009 11:00PM

Fabulous Strike classy but vulnerable

Michael Amoruso
Fabulous Strike must concede weight and run farther than he prefers in the Tom Fool.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Despite his impressive record that includes 11 stakes wins and more than $1.1 million in earnings, Fabulous Strike could be vulnerable in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park.

As the 123-pound highweight, Fabulous Strike is conceding eight to 11 pounds to serious contenders Driven by Success and Munnings. Fabulous Strike is racing at seven furlongs, a distance at which he is 0 for 3. In Driven by Success, Fabulous Strike faces a strong pace rival while Munnings looms a serious stretch threat.

All those would seem like good reasons to play against Fabulous Strike save one thing: He's just so darn talented.

And, to hear his trainer, Todd Beattie, tell it, Fabulous Strike is doing extremely well entering the race. That is why Beattie chose to run Fabulous Strike back just four weeks after his stakes-record-equaling performance (six furlongs in 1:07.85) winning the Grade 2 True North here June 6.

"I'm always a little bit worried running back as quick as I do, but he's doing so darn good I didn't feel comfortable passing and waiting five more weeks,'' said Beattie, referring to the time from now to the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga on Aug. 9.

The last time Fabulous Strike raced seven furlongs was in the Grade 1 Carter at Aqueduct, a race in which he dueled with Driven by Success only to be run down by Kodiak Kowboy, losing by a head. While Fabulous Strike hasn't run poorly at the distance, Beattie said he would prefer to run at six furlongs.

Though drawn nicely in post 5, Driven by Success - third in the Carter and Met Mile - might have to do the dirty work and keep Fabulous Strike honest on the front end.

"I can't let him go,'' trainer Bruce Levine said.

A pace battle could set things up for Munnings, who seeks to become the fourth 3-year-old to win the Tom Fool in the 35-year history of the race. He comes off a smashing 5 1/4-length victory in the Woody Stephens, and is being pointed to the Grade 1 King's Bishop at Saratoga by trainer Todd Pletcher.

"We have obvious concerns about running against older horses this early in the year,'' said Pletcher, who won this race in 2000 with the 3-year-old Trippi. "We just felt like the horse is doing so well right now, the concession in the weights, the way he ran here at the same distance on this track.''