01/04/2003 12:00AM

Grey Comet goes 4 for 4


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The New York-bred Grey Comet made a successful foray into open company Saturday, turning back a pace challenge from Mustang Jock and drawing away late for a one-length victory in the $81,350 Count Fleet Stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct.

It was the fourth victory in as many starts for Grey Comet, who had raced exclusively in New York-bred company. Mustang Jock, who pressed Grey Comet down the backside and drew alongside him around the turn of the mile and 70-yard race, finished second, four lengths ahead of Penobscot Bay.

After bobbling at the break, Grey Comet dragged Aaron Gryder to the front entering the first turn. Grey Comet ran fractions of 23.54 seconds, 47.24, and 1:12.08 while being pressed by Mustang Jock, under Luis Chavez. It wasn't until inside the sixteenth pole that Grey Comet drew clear. Grey Comet, a son of Distinctive Pro, was timed in 1:42.17 over a muddy track and returned $3.40 to win.

"I thought it was his best race so far just because we got to the bottom of him," Gryder said. "He fought off the challenge and finished up good. That shows a lot more quality than just being better than them and opening up."

Grey Comet was one of three winners saddled on the day by Gary Contessa, who has a meet-leading 14 victories over the inner track.

"This probably was his best race today, but I think he's going to be a much better horse when we're in a race with lots of speed where he can lay off the pace because I know he wants to relax," said Contessa, who trains Grey Comet for Marshall and Peter Winston's Star Track Farms.

Contessa said Grey Comet would make his next start in the $75,000 Whirlaway Stakes on Feb. 8.