ELMONT, N.Y. -- Under different circumstances, Saturday's $400,000 Vosburgh would be a key prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. But with that race on Santa Anita's synthetic Pro-Ride surface once again, the Grade 1 Vosburgh is Job 1 for Fabulous Strike, and the 6-year-old gelding figures to leave it all on the track as he attempts to win it for the second time in three years.
Set to oppose him in the 70th running of the six-furlong Vosburgh are Kodiak Kowboy, Go Go Shoot, Munnings, and Peace Chant.
Fabulous Strike won the 2007 Vosburgh in a laugher off an 85-day layoff and would be shooting for an unprecedented third win had he not come up a head short in the slop last year.
"He lost in a photo last year when he flipped a shoe off," trainer Todd Beattie said.
Fabulous Strike ran fifth in last year's BC Sprint, recording his lowest Beyer Speed Figure in the past two years.
"I don't think he's quite as good on the synthetic, in my own personal opinion," Beattie said. "I just think he never really got on track there. He didn't have the same kind of speed. I would be willing to run against [Zensational], I just would prefer it to be on dirt. We have to get through the Vosburgh and make some decisions."
Since misfiring in the BC Sprint, Fabulous Strike has rebounded to win stakes on all four NYRA dirt tracks, capped by a pace-pressing win in the A.G. Vanderbilt eight weeks ago.
"Since the last race, it's pretty status quo," Beattie said. "It's a long way between races, and that's what he likes."
A rainy forecast works to the detriment of Munnings, who was so impressive winning the Woody Stephens and Tom Fool here in early summer for Todd Pletcher. He subsequently caught sloppy tracks in the Haskell and King's Bishop and finished a well-beaten third each time.
"He's been very consistent all year," Pletcher said. "He ran hard in the King's Bishop and Haskell on a surface he didn't really care for. We're hoping for him that it doesn't rain."
Kodiak Kowboy, a stakes winner each of the past three years including a last-surge win over Fabulous Strike in the seven-furlong Carter, makes his first start for trainer Steve Asmussen since the Derby Trial in April 2008, after which he was transferred to Larry Jones.
Go Go Shoot has run a pair of 109 Beyers in two recent starts for Bruce Levine, the latest in the Vanderbilt when he set the pace to deep stretch at 15-1.
"He's doing great, and I'm excited about running him," Levine said. "If you can't get excited about that, you can't get excited about anything."