05/25/2011 11:33AM

Penn National: Fabulous Strike has final tuneup for the big time


Before heading out on the road to tackle much tougher company, the millionaire sprinter Fabulous Strike will get one more tune-up on his home track.

The 8-year-old Fabulous Strike will make the second start of his comeback following 15 months on the sidelines in the six-furlong Changing Times, the last of three $75,000 stakes on Friday night’s card at Penn National Race Course.

An all-stakes pick three begins in race 5 with the Danzig, a six-furlong sprint for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-olds. In the second leg of the sequence, Quantum Miss, a three-time stakes winner, including the Grade 3 Comely in New York this spring, will be a heavy favorite in the six-furlong Wonders Delight for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old fillies.

The star attraction, however, remains Fabulous Strike, whose career was resurrected thanks to stem cell therapy he underwent last summer for a tendon injury. Making his first start since a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Vosburgh in October 2009, Fabulous Strike won an allowance at Penn National on April 9, recording a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

Although Fabulous Strike won in the slop that night to improve his record to 15 for 25 and worked five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.40 over a muddy strip last Saturday, trainer Todd Beattie said he would prefer to see a fast track on Friday night, noting that the gelding is 8 for 8 going six furlongs on fast tracks.

Beattie indicated that the Grade 1 Alfred Vanderbilt, a race Fabulous Strike won in 2009, will be his star sprinter’s next target. The six-furlong Vanderbilt will be run Aug. 7 at Saratoga.

Among the seven challengers Fabulous Strike will face on Friday night, Jack On the Rocks looks like the most dangeorus. Last fall, Jack On the Rocks was good enough to win the $100,000 Maryland Million Sprint and finish second in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight at Aqueduct. He will be making his first start for new connections after being claimed by trainer Hugh McMahon for $35,000 out of a second-place finish on May 6 at Belmont Park.

Peppi Knows and Wink At the Girls, the second- and third-place finishers behind Fabulous Strike in April, will take another crack at him. Peppi Knows returns to his home track, where he has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 starts, following a dull effort in the Vince Moscarelli at Delaware Park. Wink At the Girls paired up the 90 Beyer he earned when third to Fabulous Strike by winning an allowance locally as the 6-5 favorite on April 30.

The field also includes Khan of Khans, who earned a 93 Beyer for winning a starter allowance at Belmont on May 4, and Billy One Lite, a five-time winner in 2010 who comes off a third-place finish in the Moscarelli.

◗ Quantum Miss returns to Penn National for the first time since winning the Blue Mountain for 2-year-old fillies by 16 lengths last November. She will be odds-on to collect her third straight stakes victory while dropping into the statebred ranks off wins against open company in the Comely and the Trevose at Parx.

Among the seven opponents Quantum Miss will face, the one with a puncher’s chance of scoring an upset is Ann’s Smart Dancer. She is 2 for 2 in her career, including a win in a first-level allowance against open company at Parx that was worth a 76 Beyer, within range of the 83 that Quantum Miss recorded last time out.

◗ Der Meister, winner of last fall’s Pennsylvania Nursery at Parx, and Harbor Kid, who is a pair of photo-finish losses from being 4 for 4 lifetime, are two of the prime contenders in the six-horse field for the Danzig.

Der Meister, locally based with trainer Murray Rojas, comes back just two weeks after winning his 3-year-old debut in a 4 1/2-furlong allowance at Charles Town.

Harbor Kid, idle since winning a first-level allowance at Parx in mid-March, indicated his fitness by posting two bullet workouts this month – a best-of-20 five-furlong breeze in 58.40 seconds and a best-of-41 four-furlong move in 47.40 seconds. The only two blemishes on his record are a nose loss in his career debut and a neck defeat against open company in an allowance on March 1.

The track’s morning-line favorite is Moonlite Grinder, whose three-race winning streak was snapped when he flashed speed and faded in the 1 1/16-mile Federico Tesio at Pimlico. Moonlite Grinder, who ran for a claiming tag in the firsts three races of his career, is cutting back to a sprint after four straight two-turn races.