10/17/2002 12:00AM

8-year-old 'Sandy' seeks long-awaited Hudson win


ELMONT, N.Y. - There is no doubt that Say Florida Sandy is the most accomplished of the 83 New York-breds entered in the seven restricted stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday.

The question is whether Say Florida Sandy has lost a step?

That could be answered in the $125,000 Hudson when Say Florida Sandy, an 8-year-old, meets 13 younger sprinters.

Owned by John Rotella, Say Florida Sandy is the 123-pound highweight of the six-furlong race.

The Hudson has been a stumbling block for Say Florida Sandy, who is the richest New York-bred of all time, having earned $1,930,355. He has lost the Hudson four times, three times as the favorite.

In two starts since finishing a solid second behind top sprinter Orientate in the Grade 2 A.G. Vanderbilt in August at Saratoga, Say Florida Sandy lost in spots he figured to have a say in. He was sixth in the restricted General D. MacArthur and fourth in the Grade 2 Forest Hills, 13 days ago.

Although the Forest Hills wasn't a terrible race, Say Florida Sandy didn't show his trademark stretch punch.

"I don't know what happened," said Victor Cuadra, Say Florida Sandy's trainer. "I definitely think he will run better. The horse is healthy and ready."

Jose Santos will ride Say Florida Sandy for the first time. Say Florida Sandy drew post 9.

The horse to beat could be Well Fancied, the 4 1/4-length winner of the MacArthur. He finished third in last year's Hudson at a big price.

Trainer John Hertler sends out Hollie Hughes winner Vodka, who makes his first start since finishing second in the Toboggan in March.

"He's doing good, but I think he needs a race," Hertler said.

Impeachthepro won last year's Hudson over Say Florida Sandy. If the track is wet, Impeachthepro's chances greatly improve.

Iroquois: Maddie May among faves

In the $125,000 Iroquois, Maddie May and Dat You Miz Blue top a field of 13 fillies and mares.

The likely favorite is Maddie May, who won the seven-furlong Iroquois last year and is coming off an easy win in the Schenectady.

"The [Schenectady] set up that she was the class of the field," said Maddie May's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "This will be tougher with Dat You Miz Blue."

John Velazquez, who has been riding both Maddie May and Dat You Miz Blue, sticks with Maddie May. She drew post 10.

Jimmy Jerkens also nominated Dat You Miz Blue to Saturday's Ticonderoga at 1 1/8 miles on the grass, but opted for the Iroquois even though the mare has been running well on turf.

"That was a little long for her," Jerkens said of the Ticonderoga. "She's lost a lot of her speed, but she should still be able to handle seven-eighths."

Jose Santos rides Dat You Miz Blue from post 7.