ELMONT, N.Y. -- Fabulous Strike returned to his favorite distance - and perhaps his favorite track - and put on an awesome display of speed, scoring a 1 1/4-length victory over defending sprint champion Benny the Bull in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 True North Handicap at Belmont Park.
After dueling with longshot Sixthirteen through a half-mile in 43.62 seconds, Fabulous Strike continued on and easily held off Benny the Bull, who was making his first start in 11 months. Fabulous Strike covered the six furlongs in 1:07.85 - which when converted from hundredths is 1:07 4/5 - equaling the stakes record set by Groovy in 1987. Artax owns the track record at 1:07.66. The track was labeled good for the True North, but was upgraded to fast after the race.
"He's really just a running machine," winning rider Ramon Dominguez said.
Fabulous Strike broke so sharply from post 6 that Dominguez was content to clear the field and get to the rail, which was good on Saturday. He was quickly joined by Sixthirteen, who after breaking slowly was rushed up to get a half-length lead in a quarter run in 21.85 seconds.
Meanwhile, Benny the Bull had moved into third position around the turn and looked poised to take advantage of the hot pace. But Fabulous Strike came put away Sixthirteen turning for home, and easily held Benny the Bull at bay.
"We were on a suicide mission, so to speak, at that point, because I wasn't going to take back in the middle of the turn," Dominguez said. "I was very pleased with the way he continued on. He never stopped running."
Fabulous Strike, a 6-year-old gelded son of Smart Strike, won for the 13th time in 22 starts an increased his bankroll to $1,179,412 for owner Walter Downey and trainer Todd Beattie.
"He's a warrior, that's how you sum it up and he's a true one," said Beattie, who will target the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga on Aug. 9 for Fabulous Strike. "He gets up and goes to work everyday."
The connections of Benny the Bull - who won this race last year - were very pleased with how their 6-year-old horse ran in his first start since last July.
"If you would have told me they would have gone 1:07 and four, I thought he would have gotten beat by 10," said Michael Iavarone, co-president of IEAH Stables, which owns Benny the Bull.