Updated on 09/18/2011 2:46AM

Fabulous Strike lone speed

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Fabulous Strike faced token opposition the last time he was shipped to West Virginia, and he responded with the fastest race of his career while racing alone on the lead. A similar scenario appears quite likely when Fabulous Strike returns to Mountaineer Race Track to make his first start against older horses in Tuesday night's $75,000 Christmas Stakes.

A 3-year-old based at Penn National, Fabulous Strike will face six rivals in the six-furlong Christmas, and none has come to close to the 115 Beyer Speed Figure that Fabulous Strike earned last time out in the Nov. 21 Sophomore Sprint Championship. Overall, he has won 5 of 9 starts, including three stakes, and $184,125.

Trainer Todd Beattie had nominated Fabulous Strike to the Grade 3 Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct on Dec. 17, but chose this easier spot in what should be Fabulous Strike's last start until spring. He tuned up for the Christmas with a five-furlong work in 59.60 seconds at Penn National.

Only two of Fabulous Strike's rivals have earned a triple-digit Beyer in 2006: Cowboy Hardware and Yucatan, the 124-pound highweight.

Cowboy Hardware, a Kentucky-based 4-year-old trained by Jeff Talley, is 3 for 3 at Mountaineer, including the 100 Beyer he earned for a 2 1/4-length victory against allowance sprinters in September.

Claimed for $40,000 in July, Cowboy Hardware hasn't been better than fourth in his two tries against stakes company, both at Ellis Park.

Yucatan's fastest race came on turf at Churchill Downs, where he rallied from last of nine and 10 lengths behind to take the five-furlong Texas Glitter, earning a 100 Beyer. Although he has won four times in 2006, Yucatan hasn't earned a Beyer higher than 93 in seven subsequent starts, and he has been mired in the 80's in his three most recent races.

The other bad news for those hoping to beat Fabulous Strike is the lack of early speed among his opponents. Fabulous Strike projects to get an uncontested lead under jockey Dana Whitney, who rode Fabulous Strike in his 8 3/4-length romp in last month's Sophomore Sprint.

The one horse who might be capable of pressuring Fabulous Strike early is the unbeaten but long-absent Pride of New York.

Now 5, Pride of New York hasn't raced since he began his career with back-to-back victories in New York in the spring of 2004. His new trainer, Zeljiko Krcmar, has prepped Pride of New York for his comeback with a long string of quick workouts at Woodbine and Beulah Park.