By Francis LaBelle Jr.

Maybe he’s just a traditionalist.

That explains why Walter Downey’s Fabulous Strike, sent off as the even-money favorite by Aqueduct’s Thanksgiving Day crowd of 3,239 Thursday afternoon, lead at all calls and easily defeated He’s So Chic in the 95th running of the $111,200 Fall Highweight Handicap.

Carrying top weight of 136 pounds – he spotted seven rivals from four to nine pounds – the 5-year-old Smart Strike gelding broke on top, entertained Grand Champion for about a half a mile and then glided over the fast track to a 1 ½-length victory in 1:09.02 for the six furlongs.

It was the easiest of jockey Ramon Dominguez’s four winners on the afternoon, as Fabulous Strike clicked off fractions off 22.19, 44.97 and 56.57. It was also Fabulous Strike’s return to dirt after running fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on the artificial Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita last month

“He likes the dirt track, that’s for sure,” said trainer Todd Beattie. “And he likes New York. He trained well over synthetic, but at that level (Breeders’ Cup Sprint) if you take even a little off your top game, it is going to show. We’ll look at the Gravesend (Grade 3, $100,000, six furlongs, Aqueduct inner dirt track, December 27) for a next start.”

Dominguez also believes that the dirt brought out the best in Fabulous Strike, who paid $4 for his 11th victory in 18 career starts.

“I’ve been very excited about this horse,” Dominguez said. “I have no doubt in my mind that he didn’t like the synthetic surface. Today, he showed who he is. In the second quarter (of a mile), I sensed they were putting a lot of pressure on. But he has a real high cruising speed and is able to relax, which is unusual. He is a superb horse.”

As for his four wins?

“It’s a great day!,” Dominguez said “An excellent day! I have a lot to be thankful for.”

Ferocious Fires was third, followed by Grand Champion, Gold Trippi, Silver Stetson Man, Idiot Proof and Nakayama Arashi.

Songster and Stormin Normandy were scratched.

FALL HIGHWEIGHT HANDICAP QUOTES

Winning trainer Todd Beattie of favored Fabulous Strike (No. 2): “He likes the dirt track, that’s for sure. And he likes New York. He trained well over synthetic, but at that level (Breeders’ Cup Sprint) if you take even a little off your top game, it is going to show. We’ll look at the Gravesend (Grade 3, $100,000, six furlongs, Aqueduct inner dirt track, December 27) for a next start.”

Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez (fourth winner of the day): “I’ve been very excited about this horse. I have no doubt in my mind that he didn’t like the synthetic surface. Today, he showed who he is. In the second quarter (of a mile), I sensed they were putting a lot of pressure on. But he has a real high cruising speed and is able to relax, which is unusual. He is a superb horse.

“It’s a great day? An excellent day! I have a lot to be thankful for.”