01/23/2003 12:00AM

Crossing Point looks very tough to catch


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Since he was claimed for $20,000 last June, Crossing Point has been on quite a tear, winning three races and placing in two others, including the Grade 3 Fall Highweight.

The time is right for the Maryland-based Crossing Point to win his first stakes in the $75,000-added Paumonok at Aqueduct on Saturday.

Multiple Choice, who would have been the favorite, was not entered because of a recurring quarter crack. Crossing Point, the 116-pound co-highweight with Say Florida Sandy, faces five in the ungraded Paumonok.

Trained by Ben Feliciano Jr., Crossing Point finished second in his last start in a $75,000 optional claimer at Laurel Park on Jan. 2. Crossing Point sustained early pace pressure from The Maccabee before shaking loose and opening a clear lead. The Maccabee's stablemate, Shake the Dice, collared Crossing Point in the final yards for a neck win. Shake the Dice returned and won a stakes at Laurel earlier this week.

Crossing Point scooted clear and set a scorching pace in the Fall Highweight over Aqueduct's main track on Nov. 28, but was caught late by True Direction. He might get an easier lead here than he did in his last two starts and could be long gone early.

"[Crossing Point] has exceptional and dangerous speed," Feliciano said. "He's so fast, he almost runs off with the rider. He won't like a really dry and cuppy track. I'd like it a bit quick."

Ryan Fogelsonger, an Eclipse Award finalist for top apprentice of 2002, rides Crossing Point, who drew post 4.

A win or a second would push Say Florida Sandy, a 9-year-old, past $2 million in earnings. He might not be as good as he was when he was younger, but Say Florida Sandy won more than $200,000 in purses last year.

Say Florida Sandy's trainer, Victor Cuadra, said he probably ran the horse back too soon in the Gravesend when he finished fourth on Dec. 29. Eighteen days earlier, Say Florida Sandy was second in an allowance race. Say Florida Sandy drew post 2 and will be ridden for the first time by Mike Luzzi.

"Sandy likes do his own thing and that's why I like Mike; he always finds the right spot," Cuadra said.

Tom's Thunder, among the horses in owner Michael Dubb's powerful claiming outfit, drops back to sprinting after winning the 1 1/16-mile Alex M. Robb on Dec. 29. Vodka ran big here last winter when he won the Hollie Hughes by 4 1/2 lengths.

Fetch Dinner and Unreal Party complete the field.

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