06/25/2009 11:00PM

Fabulous Strike eyeing Tom Fool


ELMONT, N.Y. - After Fabulous Strike recorded an impressive victory in the Grade 2 True North Handicap here June 6, trainer Todd Beattie said he probably would wait to run the 6-year-old gelding again in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga on Aug. 9.

Apparently, Fabulous Strike had other ideas.

Given the way Fabulous Strike has been training since the True North, Beattie said Friday he now plans to run arguably the nation's top sprinter in next Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park.

"Boy, he's been doing awful good," Beattie said by phone from his Penn National base. "I think we just decided we're going to go ahead and do this if everything stays like it is right now. He's carrying his weight real good, he's pretty much on top of things right now."

Beattie planned to work Fabulous Strike at Penn National on Sunday or Monday. Though Fabulous Strike has won 13 of 22 starts, he is 0 for 3 at seven furlongs. In his most recent start at that distance, he was beaten a head by Kodiak Kowboy in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct. Fabulous Strike spotted the winner five pounds in that race.

"It opens up the condition book a little for us; there are quite a few more opportunities if we can get him to do it," Beattie said about the seven furlongs. "I hate to keep forcing it down him, but a couple of those times he got loaded down with a lot of weight. He did get beat a photo in the Carter, so he didn't run horribly."

Others pointing to the Tom Fool are Driven by Success, Riley Tucker, Sixthirteen, and Two Step Salsa. Munnings is possible.

Munnings: Tom Fool or Dwyer

Fabulous Strike's presence in the Tom Fool may alter what trainer Todd Pletcher does with the 3-year-old Munnings. Pletcher was pointing the emphatic Woody Stephens winner to the Tom Fool, but now he wants to review the weight assignments before committing to the race. If he elects to skip the Tom Fool, Pletcher would run Munnings in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer Stakes for 3-year-olds.

"It does play a role," Pletcher said of Fabulous Strike being in the Tom Fool. "We'll wait and see what the weights look like and make a decision."

Plugged Nickle (1980), Groovy (1986), and the Pletcher-trained Trippi (2000) are the only 3-year-olds to have won the Tom Fool in 34 prior runnings. Pletcher likes this race for Munnings because it keeps him running at seven furlongs. Munnings won the Woody Stephens at seven furlongs on June 6 and is targeting the Grade 1 King's Bishop at seven furlongs at Saratoga on Aug. 29.

"I think the horse excels at seven furlongs," Pletcher said. "His race in the Woody Stephens was about as good as a horse can run at that distance. It may be a little early in the year to be jumping in against older horses, but in a race with Fabulous Strike, Driven by Success, and Sixthirteen there's an enormous amount of early speed and it can set up for a horse with his type of running style."

Pletcher would prefer to keep Munnings out of the Dwyer because he plans to run American Dance in that race. Others pointing to the Dwyer include Convocation, Just Ben, Kensei, Masala, Sunday Sunrise, and possibly Charitable Man and Despite the Odds.

Asiatic Boy drills for Suburban

It is not trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's modus operandi to run horses in Grade 1 races three weeks apart. But that's what he plans to do with Asiatic Boy, who is expected to start in Saturday's $400,000 Suburban Handicap three weeks after finishing second in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.

"It was a very good race coming off the bad effort in the Dubai World Cup," McLaughlin said, referring to the race in which Asiatic Boy finished 12th. "We were pleased with his race, he ran very well, and he's come out of it well. Three weeks is not normal for us per se, but he's doing great."

On Friday, Asiatic Boy worked four furlongs in 47.87 seconds over the Belmont training track. It was the second fastest of 30 half-mile breezes.

McLaughlin was thinking of waiting for the Grade 1 Whitney on Aug. 8 to run Asiatic Boy but felt eight weeks was too long between starts.

"I like the three weeks and then five weeks," McLaughlin said. "Plus he should like the mile and a quarter; we should be in good shape."

Pyro working toward return

Pyro, a multiple graded stakes winning 3-year-old of 2008, breezed three furlongs in 39.87 seconds Friday morning, his first breeze since coming into Godolphin Stable's Belmont Park barn.

Godolphin took over the ownership of Pyro following his sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last fall. He had been previously owned by Ron Winchell and trained by Steve Asmussen.

Pyro underwent surgery over the winter to take a chip out of a knee. In mid-May, he began working over the synthetic surface at Keeneland before shipping to Belmont.

"He had knee surgery over the winter, and we're bringing him back pretty slowly," said Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin's New York string. "So far, so good. He had an easy piece of work; we'll see how he gets on from here."

Mettee said Sheikh Mohammed has yet to mention a short-term or long-term goal for Pyro.

After finishing second in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Pyro became an early season favorite for the 2008 Kentucky Derby with back-to-back victories in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby for Asmussen. Pyro eventually finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby. He won the Grade 3 Northern Dancer and then finished second in the Jim Dandy and third in the Travers.

* Justwhistledixie, beaten favorite in the Grade 1 Acorn, worked three furlongs in 37.45 seconds Friday as she begins preparation for the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga on Aug. 8.