02/06/2009 12:00AM

Fabulous Strike's plans up in air


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The connections of the Grade 1-winning sprinter Fabulous Strike are still debating whether to run their gelding in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai next month or stay in the United States for a campaign that would include a start in the $150,000 General George Handicap at Laurel Park on Feb. 16.

Trainer Todd Beattie had previously said he would go to Dubai provided he received an invitation. Fabulous Strike did receive an invitation last week, but Beattie said he and owner Walter Downey are still discussing what to do.

"The last 10 years, not a lot of the sprinters that went there have come back and had success," Beattie said Friday by phone from Penn National. "I feel like I have all my eggs in one basket. However, how many times do you get to run for $2omillion over a dirt surface? Those are all the things that go through our minds."

Last year, Benny the Bull won the Golden Shaheen in Dubai and then came back to the United States and won two graded stakes en route to winning the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter.

Beattie reiterated his position that he wouldn't run Fabulous Strike in both the General George and the Golden Shaheen, even though there are six weeks between the races.

Beattie did ship Fabulous Strike last week from Penn National to Laurel Park, where on Tuesday the horse breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60. Beattie said that a combination of snow and ice at Penn National forced him to go to Laurel. However, with favorable weather conditions in the Grantville, Pa., region, Beattie shipped Fabulous Strike back to Penn National on Thursday.

Fabulous Strike has won 12 of 19 starts, including the Grade 1 Vosburgh in 2007. After running fifth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint last October over Santa Anita's synthetic surface, Fabulous Strike came back to win the Fall Highweight and Gravesend handicaps at Aqueduct.

Beattie says Westside Flyer ready

Beattie believes he has another talented sprinter in his barn in Westside Flyer, who returns to the races Sunday in a first-level allowance race at Aqueduct. The six-furlong race will be Westside Flyer's first start since he finished third in this condition at Delaware Park on June 28.

Beattie said Westside Flyer came out of that race with a severe lung infection that took three months to get over. Following that, Beattie said it "was one little thing after another" in trying to get the horse back. But now Beattie believes he has the 4-year-old gelding headed in the right direction.

"We feel our ducks are all in a row, and I think we'll see a pretty nice effort from him Sunday," Beattie said. "He's got a chance to be a really significant horse. He shows all the potential in the morning, he's got a very good way of moving, and he's got a really nice mind, too."

After finishing second in his debut, Westside Flyer won a six-furlong maiden race by 12 lengths at Philadelphia Park on June 3. Twenty-five days later, Westside Flyer finished third at Delaware in a race where the top two finishers came back to win their next starts.

Westside Flyer will break from post 3 in the nine-horse field. Six of the nine horses are being offered for the optional claiming tag of $75,000, including Laysh Laysh Laysh, who was a two-time winner over the inner track last winter as well as finishing a tough-luck third in the Capossela Stakes.

Close to the Vest ships back to New York after finishing fourth in an allowance sprint at Gulfstream Park.

Manteca wins; Giant Moon second

Manteca made it four consecutive wins by recording a 1 1/2-length, front-running victory in Friday's $67,500 Rough Rogue Stakes for older New York-bred males. Giant Moon, making his first start since running eighth in last year's Preakness, finished second, one length ahead of favored R Clear Victory.

Under Rajiv Maragh, Manteca cleared the field entering the first turn and raced uncontested through fractions of 25.03 seconds, 49.49, and 1:14.06. Dr. D.F.C attempted to make a run at Manteca at the quarter pole, but quickly flattened out. Despite drifting in deep stretch, Manteca had plenty left when Giant Moon and R Clear Victory ran at him in the stretch.

It was the first stakes win for Manteca and his fourth win from five starts overall. Manteca is owned by Stuart Sobotnick's Anstu Stables and trained by Charlton Baker. He covered a mile and 70 yards in 1:42.59 and returned $6.80 as the second choice.

Meanwhile, trainer Richard Schosberg said he was pleased with Giant Moon, who rallied for second after appearing to drop back around the far turn.

"For us to be up close, drop back, split horses, and still finish second after an eight-month layoff, it's all I could have asked for short of a win," said Schosberg, who added that Giant Moon "mashed up his teeth a little" in the gate.