06/03/2009 11:00PM

Much in Fabulous Strike's favor


ELMONT, N.Y. - Fabulous Strike is so fast and talented he doesn't need a whole lot of help. For more than two years, he has been one of the nation's leading sprinters. But every little bit helps, and on Saturday at Belmont Park, Fabulous Strike has three things going his way.

A change to a shorter distance, a return to Belmont Park, and an advantageous post position all should benefit Fabulous Strike when he heads a field of six outstanding older sprinters in the Grade 2, $250,000 True North Handicap.

The True North, the sixth race on the card, is the opening leg of a pick six that has a guaranteed pool of $1 million. It also is expected to feature the 2009 debut of Benny the Bull, whose win in last year's True North helped propel him to the 2008 Eclipse Award as the nation's champion sprinter. For added interest, the vastly improved Two Step Salsa, who won the Godolphin Mile in March, is also entered.

But they all will have to beat Fabulous Strike, who has won 3 of 5 starts at Belmont.

Fabulous Strike has run twice this year, both times at seven furlongs, both times finishing second. In his most recent start, he led nearly every step before being nailed in the final strides by Kodiak Kowboy in the Carter Handicap.

"That was a valiant effort. He did all the work and got nailed on the money," Todd Beattie, who trains Fabulous Strike, said Thursday from his base at Penn National. "He doesn't run bad at seven furlongs, but he's a little more potent at six furlongs."

Fabulous Strike has won 12 of 21 starts. He is 9 for 14 at six furlongs.

Fabulous Strike drew the outside post in the field of six. He had post 1, 2, or 3 in his previous eight starts.

"The nice thing is we won't have to be forced to use our speed if we don't want to," Beattie said. "We don't have to be in front. He can sit. But we won't let anyone float on the pace."

Two Step Salsa won twice in Dubai earlier this year. He has not raced since the Godolphin Mile, but has turned in a sharp series of works for the True North.

"We really hoped to make the Met Mile, but he got sick in quarantine and we weren't comfortable running him a mile," said Rick Mettee, the New York-based assistant to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "Obviously Fabulous Strike and Benny the Bull will be tough, but I expect a good race out of him. He's working at least as well as he did in Dubai."

Benny the Bull, who drew the rail, is also entered in the $70,000 Longfellow Stakes at Monmouth on Saturday. Trainer Rick Dutrow said he was leaning to the True North, but would not make a final decision until Friday or Saturday.

Benny the Bull has not started in nearly 11 months. He had ankle surgery last year, was initially slated to be retired for stud duty, but then was put back in training.