06/07/2001 11:00PM

Grey Memo: Blink and you miss him


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After Grey Memo's come-from-behind win in the Ack Ack Stakes at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, trainer Warren Stute mentioned to owner Pat Thompson that he would get a videotape to commemorate the race.

Thompson jokingly told him not to bother. "You'll see him at the break and see him at the finish," she said.

For Thompson and Stute, watching Grey Memo's dramatic finish in person was enough. Last of eight on the turn, Grey Memo rallied to win the Ack Ack Stakes by a nose, weaving through the field in the final sixteenth.

"He does sort of give you heart failure," Thompson said.

A 4-year-old, Grey Memo does not always leave important business to the last moment. He has won four stakes and given Thompson and partners Ron Manzani and Russ Sarno plenty of excitement in a 24-race career that began at 2.

Along the way, Grey Memo has laid the foundation for a future stallion career, possibly at Thompson's Ridgeley Farm in Hemet, Calif.

For now, the California-bred Grey Memo is a racehorse, and that is unlikely to change even next year.

"If the horse is sound, what the heck," said Thompson.

By Memo out of the Snow Chief mare B. Mozelle, Grey Memo was born at Ridgeley Farm, where Memo stands. Grey Memo has won at least one stakes at Hollywood Park in each of his three campaigns.

At 2, he won the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Breeders' Cup Stakes. Last year, he won two stakes for California-breds - the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds and the On Trust Handicap against older horses. Wednesday's Ack Ack Stakes was his first win in five starts this year.

Thompson and Stute have been pleasantly surprised with Grey Memo's success. They both remark that his disposition is more like that of an older retired horse than an active racing horse.

"If you don't shake him up, he'll go to sleep in the paddock," Stute said. "He's always been kind of exceptional. We school him before he runs, but we don't have to. He's actually turned out a little better than I thought he would. He's still improving."

Thompson was surprised by Grey Memo's behavior when he was given a three-week break over the winter at Ridgeley Farm. "He was quiet as can be," she said. "He didn't run around hollering and screaming like half the colts that come off the track."

Grey Memo may run next in the $300,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap, a Grade 2 race over seven furlongs on July 1.

On the basis of his win on Wednesday, he is likely to be among the leading contenders in the Triple Bend, which is rare for Grey Memo, who has knocked heads with the best. At 3, he ran in several major stakes, including the Grade 1 Swaps Stakes and Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes. His best result in six graded stakes was three fourth-place finish, including in the Swaps when he lost to Captain Steve and Tiznow.

He also competed against The Deputy, War Chant, and Fusaichi Pegasus, but could never beat those rivals.

"We never could find an easy race," Thompson said.

For Thompson, a trip to Hollywood Park on Wednesday was truly a day at the races. The farm is 92 miles from the track, which translates into a two-hour drive. Going home, into the teeth of the eastbound Los Angeles traffic, can take even longer.

Of course, it's a smoother trip when there's a trophy in the back seat.

Thompson found ways to pass the time on Wednesday.

"I listened to the rerun on the radio a couple of times," she said. "And when I got home, there were 14 messages on the machine. It was amazing how many people saw the race."