03/12/2009 11:00PM

Fabulous Strike pointed for Carter


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Beattie is pointing standout sprinter Fabulous Strike toward the Grade 1 Carter Handicap, the top event on the Wood Memorial undercard at Aqueduct.

The seven-furlong Carter on April 4 will likely include several runners from the Big A's Grade 3 Toboggan Handicap on March 7. The winner, Ah Day, runner-up Eternal Star, and fourth-place finisher Lucky Island are among the horses possible for the $300,000 Carter.

The presence of Fabulous Strike, winner of the Grade 1 Vosburgh in 2007, adds depth and quality to the Carter lineup.

"That's where we're going," Beattie said.

After finishing second, missing by only a head, in last year's Vosburgh, Fabulous Strike headed to Santa Anita, where he ran fifth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

He closed out the season with victories in consecutive Aqueduct handicaps: the Fall Highweight and Grade 3 Gravesend.

In his first start this year, Fabulous Strike ran second to True Quality in the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel, spotting the winner 10 pounds while carrying 127.

"There was no pace in race, and we carried a lot of weight," said Beattie. "It was a tough combination to overcome."

Fabulous Strike has resumed serious training for the Carter, working five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Thursday at Penn National.

"It was what we were shooting for," Beattie said. "It was very easy for him."

At this point, the Carter is the game plan - unless the weight assignments send Beattie shopping elsewhere.

"I could see us looking for something different if we'd have to carry as much weight as we've been giving up to those guys," Beattie said.

Eternal Star, fourth in the General George, bounced back nicely to miss by a head to Ah Day after battling to the front 70 yards from the finish.

"He came out of the race pretty good," said trainer Michael Trombetta. "We were real happy with the effort, but I wished the wire was just a little earlier."

In the Toboggan, Lucky Island made his first start since finishing fourth to Fabulous Strike in the Gravesend in late December.

"I was pleased with the way he ran," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He ran a much- improved race, and we are going to look at the Carter."

Beattie no casual visitor

Beattie doesn't send horses to New York from his central Pennsylvania base simply to run. Those who make the trip are usually well meant.

"We have a lot of respect for you guys up there," Beattie said. "We don't cross the Hudson River unless we think we can do something."

Beattie, 2 for 2 this winter over Aqueduct's inner track, will look to keep that record perfect Sunday with Private Exchange in the seventh race, a $45,000 allowance for 4-year-olds and up who have never won two races.

Those conditions are a perfect fit for Private Exchange, a winner at Presque Isle Downs in his only career start last September at 3.

"We like him a lot, and we've got him ready to run," Beattie said. "I think he can step up. He's a real good-looking horse who has worked well. We know it's a big step from Presque Isle to facing winners in New York. At the same time, we really believe in our product."

A gray son of Exchange Rate, Private Exchange is now fully healthy after getting sick following the first race.

"Then we had some small setbacks, and we had some bad tracks up here this winter," Beattie said. "We like this horse a lot, so we've been cautious with him, and that kept us from getting back any sooner."

* Dennis Lalman continues to train while appealing a 60-day suspension for multiple postrace positives for methotrexate, a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in humans, at Aqueduct. The ruling from the New York Racing and Wagering Board cited positives in Western Deed (third in the sixth race on Jan. 19 and in the second race on Jan. 29) and Wyatt Women (winner of the sixth race on Jan. 30).

* Jockey Raymundo Fuentes will serve a three-day suspension - March 18-20 - for careless riding in the fourth race on Wednesday. The stewards reduced the seven-day penalty to three when Fuentes accepted the days rather than file an appeal.