First, Hard Spun took the G2 KY Cup Classic, and then Fabulous Strike won the G1 Vosburgh—yeah, PA-breds! Sire Smart Strike also had one helluva day on Sunday, with three grade 1 stakes winners at Belmont—Fabulous Strike, English Channel and Curlin. Wow!
In the Vosburgh, my pick Talent Search ($11.80 place) went head-to-head with Fabulous Strike ($11.20 win) for the early blistering-fast lead, but couldn’t hold against the latter’s ground-saving rail trip. Favorite Discreet Cat ($2.70 show) was no threat to the winner. It was Fabulous Strike’s first attempt at grade 1 company and, boy, did he shine! Looking back over his past performances, I shouldn’t have been too surprised with his defeating Talent Search, as he did the same last November in a $75,000 stakes race at lowly Mountaineer—where he posted an astounding 122 Bris speed figure. After apparently suffering the thumps in his last start in the G2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder where he finished fifth, Fabulous Strike prepped for this start at—Presque Isle Downs! I find this fascinating, as his trainer Todd Beattie only had 24 starters as PID, so transferring him to the Tapeta surface may have, at least in some part, not just been one of convenience, but based on a belief that the less-punishing synthetic surface might aid the horse.
In the Joe Hirsch, heavy-chalk English Channel ($2.80 win) squeezed through at the rail to get the impressive win over Stream of Gold ($4.50 place) and Interpatation [sic]($4.40). He definitely looked to have plenty left in the tank too. The Toddster came back in the next race, the G1 Beldame, with his fillies Unbridled Belle ($15.40 win) and Indian Vale ($7.70 place) keying a $36.00 $1 exacta. Favorite Ginger Punch ($2.20 show) had no excuses, while Balance finishing fourth.
Finally, in the historic G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Curlin ($6.20 win) definitely threw himself back into the Classic picture with a battling, head-to-head victory over Lawyer Ron ($2.40 place). Political Force ($2.70 show) and fourth-place finisher Sun King passed early leader Brother Bobby. Still, the track at Monmouth is probably going to be the biggest obstacle for Curlin, so, if I was a fan of his (which I'm not), I wouldn't be too excited by his win here.