06/21/2008 12:00AM

Fabulous Strike set for return


Fabulous Strike, who is as fast as he is fragile, takes the first step toward what trainer Todd Beattie hopes will be a berth in this fall's Breeders' Cup Sprint when he returns from nearly nine months on the sidelines for Saturday's $75,000 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park.

Based at Penn National, where he has been training for about three months prepping for his 2008 debut, the now 5-year-old Fabulous Strike established himself as one of the nation's top sprinters when he won last June's Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill Downs with a 115 Beyer Speed Figure and captured the Gradeo1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park in late September, earning a 114 Beyer.

But Fabulous Strike never made it to the Breeders' Cup. A lung infection sent him to the sidelines for a lengthy period.

"We had to treat that for three to 3o1/2 months," Beattie said. "It was a pretty significant illness. Then, he needed a lot of time to recover."

Beattie has brought Fabulous Strike along slowly, giving him a series of six workouts since early May, including a five-furlong move in 58.60 seconds June 7.

"If you let him, he'd go in 56-and-change," Beattie said. "We wanted to control his speed, and we've done that. I have my exercise rider wear headphones so that I'm in total control of how fast he works. It's proven to be a really good tool."

Beattie considered taking Fabulous Strike to Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., where he would have gotten a feel for a synthetic surface; the BC Sprint will be run on synthetic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. Instead, Beattie opted for Saturday's six-furlong Moscarelli on the dirt at Delaware, a much shorter road trip.

Beattie wants to avoid the heavy hitters in the sprint division first time out and has had good success with his runners at Delaware, where he is 3 for 6 this season.

"I want to make sure that I have my pencil sharpened," Beattie said. "I don't want to throw him into graded races right away."

Assuming that all goes well at Delaware, Beattie is uncertain where Fabulous Strike will run next.

"The Breeders' Cup Sprint is our target," he said. "I'd like to run him in three or four races before then. Maybe something at Saratoga. Running in the Vosburgh again is in the back of my mind."

Fabulous Strike's six rivals in the Moscarelli include Hombresactlikemens, a winner of four straight, and Southern Missile, who has posted back-to-back Beyers of 98 and 99.