01/21/2004 12:00AM

Shot at redemption for Crossing Point


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Last January, it appeared as though Crossing Point had started his 6-year-old season on a good note with a front-running victory in the Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct.

Three months later, however, that victory - and the $48,330 first-place purse that came with it - was taken away from Crossing Point and his connections when a post-race urine test revealed the presence of clenbuterol in Crossing Point's system. Clenbuterol is a medication that is allowed for training purposes but is not permitted for use on race day. Crossing Point was disqualified and trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. was fined $2,000 and suspended 15 days.

This Saturday, Crossing Point, who is based in Maryland, is scheduled to return to Aqueduct to take another try at the $75,000 Paumonok at six furlongs. As he was last year, Crossing Point will be the one to catch.

Like a lot of trainers, Feliciano trains many of his horses on clenbuterol, a medication that is designed to help a horse breathe better. Feliciano said that rules in Maryland allow trainers to give their horses clenbuterol closer to race day than the rules in New York do.

"We're allowed to give it a little closer, but we're not allowed to give it on race day," Feliciano said. "My view is, if they want to ban it, ban it altogether. It was such a little trace, you could tell I didn't give it to him on race day. I'm not for using it on race day, but I think it helps a horse recover from his races quicker."

Feliciano said that was the first time he was penalized for a medication positive and felt the fine and suspension were "absolutely ridiculous for a first-time offense," he said. "We make mistakes; we're human."

Crossing Point was in excellent form entering last year's Paumonok, with four wins and two seconds in six starts. This year, Crossing Point has three wins and a second in five starts leading up to the Paumonok. His lone bad effort in the last six months was an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 De Francis Dash, in which he dueled with Shake You Down through fast fractions.

"Shake You Down was right on his toes, and I think chasing us is what got Shake You Down and us beat," Feliciano said.

As a backup, Feliciano said he planned to cross-enter Crossing Point in Saturday's Hoover Stakes at Laurel Park, along with stablemate Sassy Hound. But Feliciano said he plans to run Sassy Hound in the Hoover and Crossing Point in the Paumonok.

Crafty Song, who is also expected to run in the Paumonok, worked four furlongs in 49.88 seconds Wednesday at Aqueduct. It was the fastest of 25 works at the distance.

Taittinger Rose readies for Busanda

Taittinger Rose, a late-running second behind Fond in the Open Mind Stakes last month, will try to turn the tables on Fond in Sunday's $75,000 Busanda Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

On Wednesday, Taittinger Rose worked four furlongs in 49.14 seconds over the Belmont training track under jockey Julian Pimentel.

Taittinger Rose, a daughter of Menifee out of the graded stakes winner La Rosa, was a sharp-looking maiden winner last October at Belmont. She finished second in the Selima Stakes at Laurel in mid-November before finishing last just two weeks later in the Grade 2 Demoiselle.

In the Open Mind, Taittinger Rose was well back early before she rallied, split horses, and closed the gap on the loose-on-the-lead Fond.

"We thought we could get her going in the first flight, but we ended up way back," said Arthur Tsiamis, the New York-based assistant to trainer Bill Mott. "If [Pimentel] got her up in there, she would have finished worse than she did. I hope there's a little bit of speed in there. If we can repeat that race, we can get it."

In addition to Fond and Taittinger Rose others expected to run in the Busanda are Fait Accompli, Georgetown Gal, Leedle Dee, Please Take Me Out, Shamoiselle, and Via Sacra. Trainer Tony Dutrow is expected to run either Among My Souvenirs or Royal Magician.

Feature split into two divisions

She's a Rebel Too and Bohemian Lady are the ones to beat Friday in split divisions of an entry-level allowance race for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

In the fifth, She's a Rebel Too ships up from Maryland for the high-percentage trainer Tony Dutrow. After finishing third at 3-5 in her debut Dec. 18, She's a Rebel Too rolled to a front-running 6 1/4-length victory, going 5 1/2 furlongs Dec. 31 at Laurel. She looms the main speed breaking from the rail under the meet's leading rider, Pablo Fragoso.

Special Tactics came off a two-month layoff to win her maiden by a neck Jan. 7 for D. Wayne Lukas's barn. Itawtisawaputtytat makes her first start since finishing second to the runaway winner Highgate Park on Dec. 11.

In the eighth, Bohemian Lady makes her second career start after looking like a stakes filly when she won her maiden by 4 1/2 lengths Dec. 20. Bohemian Lady showed good tactical speed from post 11 that day, stalking two speed horses and taking over in upper stretch.

She'll face Bikini Wiggle, who drops back into allowance company after finishing fourth in the Ruthless Stakes on Jan. 4. For My Wife will likely try to steal this on the front end breaking from post 7.

* When Chuck Lopez guided In C.C.'s Honor ($4) to victory in the Wednesday's fifth race, it was his 2,999th career victory.

* Go Rockin' Robin, the winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan in May, underwent a recent throat operation, according to trainer Scott Schwartz. Schwartz said he hopes to have the 4-year-old New York-bred back to the races this spring.