04/09/2011 8:51PM

Penn National: Fabulous Strike scores in return from 18-month layoff

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Fabulous Strike goes wire to wire under Dana Whitney while making his first start since October 2009 in Saturday night's allowance feature at Penn National.

The millionaire sprinter Fabulous Strike made a successful return from 18 months on the sidelines Saturday night, winning a six-furlong allowance  worth $42,560 at his home track, Penn National Race Course.

Racing over a sloppy track, the 8-year-old Fabulous Strike ($3.60) was kept about two paths off the rail by jockey Dana Whitney, setting fractions of 22.08 and 44.58 seconds while leading by a length over Peppi Knows, a 4-year-old who last year won the Whirlaway at Aqueduct and was the runner-up in the Grade 2 Remsen in 2009.

Whitney began urging his mount with multiple right-handed taps of the whip inside the eighth pole and Fabulous Strike was hard-ridden to the wire to prevail by two lengths while completing the six furlongs in 1:09.53. Peppi Knows, the 2-1 second choice in a field of five older sprinters, held second by a neck over Wink At the Girls.

Fabulous Strike was awarded a Beyer Speed Figure of 96, the first time he did not register a triple-digit figure since finishing fifth in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Sprint on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita.

It was the first start for Fabulous Strike since he emerged from his runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Vosburgh in October 2009 with a tendon  injury and underwent stem cell treatment last summer. He is now 15 for 25 lifetime with earnings of $436,772, and 5 for 9  with 3 seconds racing over wet surfaces.

Whitney, the leading rider at Penn National, was subbing for Fabulous Strike’s regular jockey, Ramon Dominguez, who rides regularly in New York. Whitney had gone 3 for 3 aboard Fabulous Strike in stakes at Mountaineer in 2006 and 2007, including  the gelding’s career-best 119 Beyer Speed Figure in December 2006.

Trainer Todd Beattie had said before the race that two likely targets for Fabulous Strike, owned by Walter Downey’s Tea Party Stable,  are the $75,000 Vince Moscarelli at Delaware Park on May 7 and the Grade 2 True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 11.

“His best races haven’t come over sloppy tracks, but he was ready to run tonight,” said Beattie. “He needed a good race and Mr. Downey and I are both very pleased with the results. When things settle down tomorrow, we’ll look ahead – perhaps at the Vincent Moscarelli at Delaware Park, or something at Belmont Park. He loves that track.”