02/16/2009 1:00AM

True Quality upsets Fabulous Strike


A surprisingly soft easy pace, a 10-pound weight break from the favorite, and some genuine talent helped True Quality upset Fabulous Strike in Monday's Grade 2, $150,000 General George Handicap at Laurel Park.

Able to get away with a half-mile in 47.21 seconds under Chuckie Lopez, True Quality had plenty left to run away from Fabulous Strike - the 127-pound highweight - in the stretch and win the General George by 1 1/2 lengths. It was two lengths back to Malibu Kid in third. Eternal Star, Broadway Producer, and Lord Snowdon completed the order of finish.

The victory was third in four starts for True Quality since he returned from a layoff precipitated by foot and ankle issues. True Quality's lone loss since his return was in the Grade 3 Gravesend at Aqueduct when Fabulous Strike ran him down in the stretch. In that race, True Quality had to run early fractions of 22.66 and 45.74.

On Monday, True Quality was able to run an opening quarter in 23.81 and a half-mile 47.21 which enabled him to have enough left to turn back Fabulous Strike, the 4-5 favorite under Edgar Prado, in the stretch.

"That was probably the big key," Lopez said of the opening half-mile fraction. I didn't know if he could go quite this far, but I figured if they let him go easy I would have a reasonably good chance of winning the race."

True Quality, a 4-year-old son of Elusive Quality owned by the Paraneck Stable, ran his final eighth in 11.79 seconds despite not changing leads and covered seven furlongs in 1:22.31. He returned $9.80 as the second choice. It was the biggest career victory for trainer John Campo Jr., whose only other graded-stakes win came in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes in 1999 with Kachemak Bay.

When I saw 47-and-3 I felt really good, " Campo said. "[Fabulous Strike] is a good horse - you can't take anything away from that horse - but it showed today we also have a very good horse. "

Prado, riding the Grade 1 winner Fabulous Strike for the first time because Ramon Dominguez at Oaklawn Park to ride Old Fashioned in the Southwest Stakes, said his horse had no excuses.

- David Grening

"He was right there turning for home, with a perfect position to win," Prado said. He just got outrun."

Though Campo didn't want to commit to True Quality's next start, a logical target would be the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct on April 4.