05/30/2007 11:00PM

Fabulous Strike ready for prime time


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There are big Beyer Speed Figures, and then there are huge ones. The figs that a heretofore unknown sprinter named Fabulous Strike brings into the Grade 3 Aristides Breeders' Cup Stakes are sure to have Churchill Downs handicappers shaking their heads Saturday as they wonder whether the numbers will translate into a victory over far superior competition than what the horse has been facing.

Fabulous Strike, a 4-year-old Smart Strike gelding based at Penn National with Todd Beattie, ended 2006 with figures of 115 and 119, then registered a 118 in his only race this year, a $75,000 stakes race on May 5. All three races came at Mountaineer Race Track, where horses typically earn considerably smaller Beyers. Nonetheless, Andrew Beyer himself said the figures for Fabulous Strike are "rock solid."

"When a horse runs a huge number under some unusual circumstances, like at Mountaineer, we always take a hard look at it," said Beyer. "And if it makes no sense, we might arbitrarily lower it, because we're not going to stick our neck out with that kind of number. But we put his numbers under the microscope, and I stand by them 100 percent."

That said, Fabulous Strike, with Ramon Dominguez to ride, must be considered the horse to beat in the 19th running of the six-furlong Aristides, one of three stakes on Saturday's program. The $150,000 Aristides is the 10th of 11 races and is preceded by the $100,000 Opening Verse Handicap (race 8) and the $150,000 Dogwood BC (race 9).

Fabulous Strike will break from post 5 in a field that also includes such accomplished runners as Saint Anddan (post 4), who most recently sped to a two-length victory in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard; Gaff (post 3), winner of the Churchill Turf Sprint on the Kentucky Oaks undercard; and Greg's Gold (post 2), a Southern California shipper with triple-digit Beyers in each of his last six races.

Greg's Gold, with David Flores in to ride, is a Grade 1 winner, having captured the 2005 Bing Crosby at Del Mar before being sidelined by injury for nearly 20 months. All three of his races since returning have been solid, including a win in the Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park in his latest.

Other starters in the Aristides, which honors the winner of the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, are Off Duty, Santana Strings, and Cougar Cat.