12/12/2002 12:00AM

Contessa's barn loaded for winter


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Gary Contessa won't stick his neck out and predict that he will win back-to-back Aqueduct inner-track titles, but don't take that as a sign the trainer lacks confidence in his stable.

Contessa won the 2001-2002 inner-track title with 38 winners and is second in the standings at the current meet with four winners through Thursday's card. "I'm not predicting a title, but I think I can win a lot of races," Contessa said "I have a lot of good horses in the barn. Maybe I'm even stronger than last year."

Among the runners that Contessa is high on are a pair of 2-year-old New York-breds, Grey Comet and Unswept. Those horses will run as an uncoupled entry in Sunday's $75,000-added Damon Runyon Stakes for statebreds. The 1 1/16-mile Damon Runyon will be the first time that Grey Comet and Unswept have competed around two turns.

Grey Comet, owned by Star Track Farms, is 2 for 2. He won a maiden race by two lengths over a sloppy track at Belmont Park in October and came back to win a division of the New York Stallion Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 10.

Unswept, owned by David Cassidy and Andrew Farm, has won 2 of 3 starts. A son of End Sweep, Unswept was a good-looking winner of a maiden race at Saratoga. In his next start, he displaced his palate and was a well-beaten sixth in the Bertram F. Bongard. After laser throat surgery to correct the problem, Unswept looked strong winning a first-level allowance by 7 1/2 lengths last month at Aqueduct.

"I always thought the world of Grey Comet and I think he will be well suited to run a distance," Contessa said. "Unswept is an extremely talented horse. I think their styles will augment each other. Grey Comet is versatile; he's not a speed horse. Unswept will rocket right to the lead. The distance will be a whole new world for Unswept, but the inner track can be kind to sprinters stretching out."

Others expected in the Damon Runyon are Dazzling Spirit, Explicit Action, Faeton, Go Rockin' Robin, Grey Pride, and Tomorrows Banquet.

Gravesend next for Sandy

Popular New York-bred Say Florida Sandy came out of his second-place finish in Wednesday's feature in good shape and will shoot for $2 million in earnings in the $100,000-added Gravesend Handicap Dec. 26.

Say Florida Sandy, the favorite, was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Sing Me Back Home in the six-furlong classified allowance, run over a track labeled good. Say Florida Sandy's runner-up check boosted his earnings to $1,982,255 for owner John Rotella.

After Say Florida Sandy's loss on Wednesday, the 8-year-old is 0 for 10 on wet tracks.

"We were [back and forth] about running," said Say Florida Sandy's trainer, Victor Cuadra. "It was a safe track condition, but not his favorite track. He came out of the race perfect. If the same situation was repeated next time, I think I would pass on running on an off track."

Carrero disqualified on first day back

Jockey Victor Carrero's first day back on the job is one he would probably rather forget.

In Thursday's sixth race, following a stewards' inquiry and a claim of foul by jockey Mike Luzzi, Carrero was disqualified from second to third aboard Golconda for interfering with Luzzi's mount, Bay Commander.

Carrero finished fourth with his only other mount on the card, Connies Monster in the opener.

It was Carrero's first day back since serving a 15-day suspension for throwing dirt and his whip at his mount Saltaat after the horse broke a leg on Nov. 21. The stewards also fined him $2,000.

Carrero's agent, Jose Morales, said the rider has been in therapy since his temper tantrum.