05/02/2007 11:00PM

Fabulous Strike ready to start '07


Fabulous Strike, one of 2006's most promising young sprinters, will make his 4-year-old debut on Saturday. That much is certain.

Where he runs, however, is still up for discussion.

Penn National-based trainer Todd Beattie has cross-entered Fabulous Strike in the $60,000 Lyman Sprint Handicap, a six-furlong restricted stakes at Philadelphia Park, and the $75,000 Panhandle Handicap, a five-furlong event at Mountaineer Race Track.

Although the Philly Park stakes is worth less, with the breeder-bonus money Fabulous Strike could earn as a Pennsylvania-bred, he would actually be competing for a purse of $72,000, making it a toss-up monetarily with Mountaineer's Panhandle.

Beattie said he is leaning toward shipping to Mountaineer, where Fabulous Strike is 2 for 2, including a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 119 last winter in the Christmas Stakes. Beattie's only hesitation is the 126 pounds Fabulous Strike was assigned for the Panhandle, spotting his six opponents between eight and 16 pounds.

"I'm still probably going to Mountaineer," Beattie said. "We already know he gets along well with that track."

Assuming Fabulous Strike runs well, Beattie anticipates tackling stiffer competition next time, though he has not yet picked out a specific race.

"We'll eventually take on the big boys," said Beattie, who saddled Fabulous Strike for a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park last summer. "I just want to make sure my pencil's real sharp. Then we'll step it up."

If Fabulous Strike goes in the Panhandle, his toughest rival appears to be Smoke Mountain, who is 2 for 2 at Mountaineer and comes off a third in the $139,000 Duncan Kenner Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Fabulous Strike would also have to avoid getting into a pace duel with the speedy Kelp, a Maryland-based runner who is capable of breaking 22 seconds for a quarter-mile and 44 and change for a half-mile.

If Beattie scratches Fabulous Strike out of the Lyman at Philly Park, he would still have Caromon, a lightly raced 6-year-old who recently returned from 360 days on the sidelines to win a conditioned claimer at Mountaineer with a Beyer Figure of 100. Caromon has raced just five times since winning his career debut at Philly Park in November 2004.

The field also includes defending champ Pocomoonshine and graded stakes winner Banjo Picker, who has raced just once since finishing third as the 2-1 favorite in last year's Lyman.