11/28/2002 12:00AM

Aqueduct: True Direction carries that weight


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When trainer Carlos Morales learned that horses in the Fall Highweight Handicap carry about 17 more pounds than usual, he was leery about running True Direction in the Grade 3 race. In the end, he needed a push from owner Moreton Binn to enter.

It turned out that Binn knew best as True Direction, the highweight at 134 pounds, rallied to run down pacesetting Crossing Point and take the $111,600 Fall Highweight by a half-length before a crowd of 5,345 at Aqueduct.

Crossing Point, the 5-2 favorite who carved out hot fractions under Ryan Fogelsonger, held second by 1 1/2 lengths over longshot Gold I.D.

True Direction, a 3-year-old son of French Deputy, broke sharply but was taken back into fourth position by Javier Castellano down the backside. He stalked three wide into the turn and moved into second position approaching the quarter pole.

In the stretch, True Direction was drifting out, but Castellano was able to straighten him out and run down Crossing Point in the final 20 yards. True Direction, who captured his first graded stakes and is now 5 for 8 lifetime, covered the six furlongs in 1:09.62 over a fast track. He returned $10.

"I'm always scared to run the horse with five more pounds, now it was like 20 more pounds," Morales said. "[Binn] told me he was not discouraged, so he said let's run."

Morales said True Direction would make his next start in either the Grade 1 Malibu at Santa Anita or the Grade 3 Gravesend at Aqueduct. Both races are on Dec. 26.

Castellano rode the last three winners on the holiday card.

* Norberto Arroyo Jr. pulled a muscle in his right shoulder during the running of Thursday's sixth race. Doctors took Arroyo off his remaining mount, Southland Blues in the Fall Highweight.

* Final Strike suffered a compound fracture of his right front cannon bone in deep stretch of Thursday's nightcap and had to be euthanized. Jockey Mike Luzzi, who was unseated, escaped injury.