01/25/2003 12:00AM

Aqueduct: Crossing Point holds on


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Playing his standard game of catch-me-if-you-can, Crossing Point set a blistering pace and held on desperately in the final strides to defeat Say Florida Sandy in the $80,550 Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct.

Sent off at odds-on in the six-furlong dash, the Maryland-based speedball Crossing Point set the pace on the inside while under hard pressure from 55-1 shot Unreal Party along the backstretch, as the pair went head-and-head through a quarter-mile in 21.74 seconds.

Crossing Point put Unreal Party away on the turn, opened up a clear lead beneath Ryan Fogelsonger after a half-mile in 44.45 seconds, and remained well clear through midstretch - at which point Say Florida Sandy began closing ground under Mike Luzzi.

At the wire, Crossing Point held on by a half-length in 1:09.80, with the relentless Say Florida Sandy, who broke a bit slowly, finishing nearly three lengths clear of third-place finisher Tom's Thunder. Vodka was fourth, as the first four finished in parimutuel order.

"I was like a statue and he does 21 and 44 [seconds] like it's nothing," said Fogelsonger. "Say Florida Sandy made a good race of it, but my horse dug in."

Crossing Point earned $48,330 for his ninth win in 21 starts. He paid $3.70 as the choice among the crowd of 5,628, and keyed chalky exacta ($9.20) and trifecta ($15) payoffs.

Say Florida Sandy's second-place share of $16,110 pushed him past the $2 million earnings plateau, at $2,004,917, with a record of 31-18-11 in 93 starts.

"Speed has been so tough to run down all day. That was the one thing that scared me," said trainer Victor Cuadra. "Getting to two million is a big accomplishment."