10/29/2009 12:00AM

Autrey ready to take on New York

Email

After toppling perennial Delaware Park kingpin Scott Lake for that track's trainer's title, Cody Autrey has found a new world to try to conquer. Autrey began setting up shop in barn 6 at Aqueduct this week, hoping to make an impact on New York racing this fall and winter.

Approximately 24 horses were scheduled to arrive at Aqueduct from Delaware on Thursday, with about a dozen more to come in the weeks ahead.

"Everybody wants to go to New York if they can," said Autrey, who won 58 races at Delaware Park, three more than Scott Lake, who had been the leading trainer at Delaware Park the last seven years.

The impetus for Autrey coming to New York was a chance meeting with owner Robert Joscelyn at the popular Saratoga haunt Siro's this summer. Joscelyn is a partner of Michael Dubb, a prominent New York owner who likes to claim. Dubb, who also employs trainer Tony Dutrow with his better stock, will use Autrey with the lower-to-mid-level claiming horses.

"Cody's young and hungry," Dubb said. "The reality of racing is, if you want to be active in races, you have to be active at the claim box with horses that run in the $10,000 to $25,000 claiming price range. Cody is perfectly comfortable claiming those horses. He's done well at that level, he's got a proven track record, he's very intense. It seemed like a good fit for somebody to claim horses on a day-to-day basis."

"I came to New York with Mike Dubb for Mike Dubb," said Autrey, who turns 30 on Nov. 11. "If I don't meet Bob Joscelyn and Mike Dubb, I'm not there."

Autrey has made two claims for Dubb: Munition, whom he took for $10,000, and Kid Freud, a New York-bred he claimed for $16,000 at the Meadowlands.

"It's the way things have gone for me the past year," Dubb said, "but Cody and I have been outshook probably about half a dozen times at Keeneland and the Meadowlands."

Autrey, a native of Waxahachie, Texas, won his first race in 2000. But Autrey said he really didn't start training on his own until 2004. Before that, he was an assistant trainer to Bubba Cascio, a highly successful Quarter Horse trainer who switched to Thoroughbreds in 1991.

"I worked for him until about 2004," Autrey said. "I had one or two horses he'd let me train to get more experience. In 2004, I had about nine horses, and it wasn't until 2007 when I first had 25 horses in my care. We built on it from there."

Autrey won 133 races from 528 starters in 2007 and followed with 112 wins from 534 starts in 2008. Through Monday, Autrey had won 105 races from 384 starters this year.

Autrey figures to add life to a claiming game that has quieted over the years in New York.

"I'm not going to go there scared," said Autrey, who will also maintain a division at Fair Grounds. "The challenge is not knowing the people. Where I come from, I know people, trainer's habits, where they run their horses, moves they make, moves they don't make. It's like playing cards with someone everyday. . . . I'm not afraid to claim off anybody, no matter what. You can get a good horse off a good trainer or a bad horse off a good trainer or a bad horse off a bad trainer or a good horse off a bad trainer. I'll try to do my homework and claim sound horses and horses that can run."

A quick look at some of the horses Autrey had success with at Delaware shows just how sharp he is at the claiming game.

In April, he took the 8-year-old gelding Seneca Summer for $20,000 at Oaklawn. He freshened the horse, and Seneca Summer went 3 for 3 at Delaware.

In May, Autrey claimed Tizsilk, a Tiznow gelding. for $15,000 from Neil Howard. Tizsilk has three wins and two seconds from five starts. One of those seconds came at Belmont in a starter handicap, Autrey's first starter in New York.

Taleitlikeitain't had three wins from six starts since Autrey took him for $30,000 from Eric Guillot at Fair Grounds in March. Mr. Meso, a $5,000 claim, has gone 3 for 5 since Autrey took him.

Autrey said he owns about 15 horses, including This Chic's Got It, a 2-year-old filly who won a maiden $50,000 race at Delaware on July 26 and a starter allowance at Penn National on Oct. 6.

"I don't care if I win five Eclipse Awards, five Triple Crown races, and two Breeders' Cups," Autrey said. "I'll claim a horse for $5,000 the next day. I love the action, I love reading the Racing Form, I love being on top of things. I like to keep turning things over. At my barn, I probably don't have one horse that I had last year that I claimed. You have to have fresh stock."

While Autrey plans to be active, he plans to come out of the gates slowly.

"It's hard to come somewhere new and do good," Autrey said. "That's why we're extremely happy with what we did at Delaware. We thought going to Delaware we'd have a good meet, but I opened up the condition book, and every time I looked down there was a race that fit me. Once we get our horses from Delaware settled in, get them a work over the racetrack, then we'll start entering, and then we'll be okay.

"I'm not in a hurry to get a lot of horses,'' he said. "I want to claim the right horses wait and pick up my business. Maybe I'll claim two one day and nothing for a couple of days. . . . I'm not going to show up and start throwing things in the entry box because I'm here. Everywhere I go, I run horses. I never had one racing secretary call me and say, 'Cody, why aren't you running horses?' "