03/05/2002 12:00AM

Pompay having a memorable meet


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Terri Pompay has been around horses since she was 8 years old in her native Saratoga Springs, N.Y., but very few times in the intervening years has she gotten more enjoyment out of horses than in the last two months at Gulfstream Park.

Pompay, now 40, has sent out six winners from her first 24 starters at the 2002 meet. Several of her horses have returned big mutuels, including winners at 43-1, 23-1, and 10-1.

On Monday, the Pompay-trained Devon Rose captured the fifth race as an odds-on favorite.

"We're not really doing anything different from what we've always done," Pompay said early Tuesday at her Barn 12 office. "Maybe a little better horse, but basically we're just working hard."

In her early 20's, Pompay graduated from college and was a district manager for several years for a pharmaceuticals company, but she never strayed far from the racetrack. At age 16, she began exercising horses every summer at Saratoga and eventually rode in about eight to 10 races in 1983, winning two at Finger Lakes. She then went to work for about eight years for now-retired trainer Ronald J. Taylor, her ex-boyfriend with whom she shares a 5-year-old son, Chance.

Pompay took out her trainer's license in 1995 and since has worked a circuit of New Jersey and Florida. Although she has consistently won at a respectable percentage, this latest roll at Gulfstream ranks among her very best.

"A lot of different variables go into something like this," she said. "You have to get a little lucky, have races 'go,' get a decent ride, all that. Plus we've got a very good team working for us here right now, and Eduardo Azpurua Jr. is sending me horses down from Ocala ready to run. Everything is clicking."

While Pompay has 12 horses at Gulfstream, she has more in Ocala with Azpurua, including a handful of 2-year-olds who should be ready to run at the end of this month. Her goal is to have 30 horses for the Monmouth Park meet, which begins May 25.

"I'd like to parlay what we're doing now into some better horses and hopefully keep this going all year," she said.

Grey Beard impresses

Grey Beard moved closer to a berth in the March 16 Florida Derby, working six furlongs in 1:12.80 over a fast track Tuesday at Gulfstream.

Trainer Graham Motion said he probably would recommend to Grey Beard's owner, George Brunacini, that the colt to run in the Florida Derby. "By anyone's standards, that was a very good work," said Motion. "It was particularly good for him, considering he's not an exceptional work horse."

Brunacini trains a small string of horses at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, Ky. Last summer, when it became apparent that Grey Beard could be an outstanding prospect, he turned the colt over to Motion. Grey Beard won a two-turn maiden race at Keeneland under Robby Albarado in October.

After winning an entry-level allowance early in the Gulfstream meet, Grey Beard "just didn't run his race" when he was seventh in the Feb. 16 Fountain of Youth Stakes, said Motion, adding that he has awaiting word about whether Albarado would ride Grey Beard in the Florida Derby.

Grey Beard is one of at least nine 3-year-olds under consideration for the $1 million Florida Derby. The others are Booklet, Harlan's Holiday, High Star, Nokoma, Stephentown, Personal Reward, Blue Burner, and Political Attack.

Six confirmed for Sprint Championship

At least six older horses are expected to run Saturday in the richest race of the weekend here, the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship.

With riders, the confirmed starters for the seven-furlong, Grade 2 race are Hook and Ladder, John Velazquez; Fappie's Notebook, Jorge Chavez; Dream Run, Pat Day; Twilight Road, Rene Douglas; Binthebest, Jon Court; and Dancing Missile, no rider.

The Sunday feature is the $100,000, Grade 3 Creme Fraiche Handicap for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.

Purely Cozzene euthanized

Purely Cozzene, a stakes winner in California at 3 for owner Ed Friendly and trainer Bob Baffert, was euthanized here Sunday shortly after breaking down in the seventh race, which was won by Wertz. The 5-year-old Purely Cozzene was making his first start for trainer Elliott Walden when he took a bad step entering the backstretch of the turf course.

"He shattered both sesamoids," said Walden, adding that Dr. Mark Cheney "thought it would be an extreme longshot to try and save him, so we didn't put him through all that. It's just a shame."

* Walden said Jostle, one of the top 3-year-old fillies of 2000, is closer to her seasonal debut after breezing five furlongs Tuesday at Payson Park. Walden said the $75,000 Banshee Breeze Stakes here April 5 is a possible target.