Fabulous Strike, the 4-5 morning line favorite, is a prolific winner with twelve victories on his resume including ten stakes. The Todd Beattie trainee operates out of central Pennsylvania and ended 2008 with wins in the both the Fall Highweight and the Gravesend Handicaps at Aqueduct. With career earnings of $939,412 the gelding would become a millionaire with a win Monday.
Three other big guns will ship to Laurel from New York. True Quality (5-1) and Lord Snowdon (6-1) come from Aqueduct and Broadway Producer (8-1) will start his trip at Belmont Park. The local colony is represented by Eternal Star (9-2) and Malibu Kid (12-1.)
Eternal Star won four stakes last year for trainer Mike Trombetta -- two at Philadelphia Park and one each at Delaware Park and Saratoga. The Laurel Park based runner has won half of his 18 lifetime starts, with runner-up finishes in four others. Julian Pimentel is five for eight on the son of Five Star Day. He continues as his rider on Monday.
“This has been on our calendar for awhile,” Trombetta said. “Facing Fabulous Strike is a tall task but it is our home track at a distance he likes. We know there is going to be a lively pace but my horse is versatile-he’ll run up near the front or he’ll stalk from three or four back.”
Lord Snowdon was a very close second in last year’s edition of the General George, losing to undefeated Bustin Stones by a head. Under the care of Tony Dutrow the son of Seeking the Gold opened his six-year-old campaign with a victory in Laurel Park’s Native Dancer on January 3. Jeremy Rose retains the mount.
“He likes Laurel,” said Dutrow. “There are some accomplished runners in here but he is doing well and I expect another good effort.”
“I like my chances,” added Rose. “Lord Snowdon always shows up and we’ll have plenty of speed to run at. His last effort was a huge one because the track was 100 percent speed favoring that day. We came from last and circled the field. He is on top of his game and Tony will have him ready.”
True Quality, a speedball son of Elusive Quality from the John Campo Jr. barn, won a hard fought edition of the Paumonok Handicap in his most recent start, his fourth win in nine tries and finished second just 1 ¾ lengths behind Fabulous Strike in the Gravesend. Five of his past six workouts, from December 23 through February 8, have been bullets. C.C. Lopez will again be at the controls.
“This horse came into the barn in August,” said Campo. “He acts just like he looks on paper. He works fast and he runs lights out. He ran very well against Fabulous Strike in that stakes and ran well again when he won the Paumonok. It’s a short field and Chuckie (Lopez) knows how to ride this horse.”
Broadway Producer, a two-turn turf specialist, has won stakes races on both the grass and the dirt at Laurel. He won the Maryland Million Turf in October and the Jennings Handicap two months later on the main track. Eddie Castro will ride the son of Not For Love for trainer John Terranova.
Malibu Kid prepped for the General George with seven furlong wins at Laurel against optional/claiming company. He’s stakes placed in races against Maryland-breds. Rodney Jenkins trains the son of Malibu Moon. Travis Dunkelberger continues as his pilot.
“This horse is speedy but I don’t plan on fighting it out on the front end,” Jenkins said. “We are going to let them go and try to pick up the pieces. He deserves a chance-running 100 and 102 (Beyer Speed Figures) in his last two races. I am very happy with him. This is his best distance and we’ll find out what we have.”